Pianist/composer Michele Rosewoman, born in Oakland, California, should be considered the West Cost Randy Weston. Like Sugar Hill's piano giant, she is steeped in African and Afro-Cuban music, but draws directly from Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus. Rosewoman, an instructor at the New School, has become a New York resident and has fully adopted a New York sound. This, her seventh disc as leader and fourth with her band Quintessence, gives a good overview of her musical vision. Recorded live at Sweet Basil, the band slips effortlessly into the bebop mode "Where It Comes From," to a funk inspired "Fuzz Junk," to a soft ballad "Free To Be." Credit Rosewoman's writing but also a fine all-star band, that includes the tenor heavyweight Craig Handy and point guard Steve Wilson (Chick Corea's Origin), dutifully following Rosewoman's lead. Drummer Gene Jackson is the real workhorse here, powering an M-BASE groove on "West Africa Blue" and the opening Waltz rhythm. The band gels on the disc's longest track, the 11-minute "Akomado," a Dahomey chant turned Afro-Cuban percussive melody. Rosewoman's vocals give way to a tempo shifting burner. Recorded live is an apt description for this outing.
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