Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio

Jerome Wilson By

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Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio
Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa previously espoused his love of Charlie Parker on his album Bird Calls (ACT, 2015). Here he expands on that to pay tribute to, not only Parker, but other influences such as Ornette Coleman, Johnny Cash, and Keith Jarrett.

Mahanthappa leads a freewheeling trio, with Francois Moutin on bass and Rudy Royston on drums, which romps through a variety of tunes. On Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" his alto sings brightly while the rhythm section skips and kicks. Jarrett's "The Windup" is all thumping bass, rolling drums and dizzying alto, set to a Caribbean beat. "Ring Of Fire" has Moutin and Royston bouncing along to a skipping country beat like they were Johnny Cash's own Tennessee Three backup band while Mahanthappa's playing smoothly shifts into double and triple time runs. Charlie Parker is revisited on three brisk jaunts. "Red Cross," is played with a serpentine Indian flavor and "Dewey Square" with a funky shuffle groove. On "Barbados" the alto runs fast and rhythm section slow before everyone shifts together into bebop swing time for Coltrane's "26-2."

There are always echoes of Ornette Coleman in Mahanthappa's buzzing, fluid sound but the Coleman composition he chooses for this set is the more abstract "Sadness" where the alto's ghostly moans are set against elastic bass bowing that recalls the work of David Izenzon in Coleman's Golden Circle Trio. There are also two standards, "I Can't Get Started" and "I'll Remember April," meant to pay homage to masters of the saxophone trio format, Sonny Rollins and Lee Konitz. On "Started" Mahanthappa croons the melody at a slow pace and solos gracefully while Moutin and Royston produce a web of tolling bass notes and irregular drum crashes. Meanwhile "April" wriggles out furiously with careening stop-start sax motion, explosive drumming and nimble bass work.

Rudresh Mahanthappa's alto sounds tireless here. He shoots out long lines of melody in dizzying loops and whirls, while Moutin and Royston make an explosive but sympathetic rhythm section. Together they are a potent force and have a field day joyously digging into these old tunes. This is one of Mahanthappa's headiest and most enjoyable efforts.

Track Listing

Red Cross; Overjoyed; Barabados/26-2; I Can't Get Started; The Windup; Ring Of Fire; I'll Remember April; Sadness; Dewey Square.


Rudresh Mahanthappa: saxophone, alto; Francois Moutin: bass; Rudy Royston: drums.

Album information

Title: Hero Trio | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings

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