Trumpeter Charlie Porter has proved himself to be an inventive composer whose works are simultaneously thought-provoking and mellifluous. His third and perhaps most immediately relevant release, Hindsight, draws inspiration from the events that came to public attention in 2020. Musically, the nine originals are fluid yet complex and are peppered with sounds from other genres such as gospel, African folk and hip hop. The result is a seamless and delightfully unique fusion which delivers its message with intelligence and panache.
This superb album opens urgently with the simmering "Tipping point." Bassist David Wong sets the thrilling tempo with his fast walking lines. Drummer Kenneth Salters propels the tune forward with his galloping beats while pianist Orrin Evans lays down a crystalline pianism with his resonant chords. In addition to Evans' virtuosic and angular improvisation, Porter and saxophonist Nick Biello alternate turns in the spotlight with fiery and furious phrases. Salters' thunderous polyrhythms usher in the concluding head.
"In Short Supply," on the other hand, starts with n'goni (Malian guitar) player Bassekou Kouyate's warm and intimate exchanges with percussionist Mahamadou Tounkara's tama (talking drum). A laid-back bluesy feel permeates the tune as guitarist Mike Moreno performs a short and poignant solo. Vocalist Jimmie Herrod's emotive song enhances the ethereal ambience and Porter mutes his trumpet to haunting effect. Layer upon layer of singular instrumentation, particularly the pairing of Tounkara's tama and vibraphonist Behn Gillece's echoing mallets, result in an intriguing sonic tapestry and a satisfyingly complete piece.
The expectant "Things Fall Apart" features electric bassist Damian Erskine's swaggering muscular lines and Herrod's dramatic interpretation of his own lyrics. Evans adds to the electrifying atmosphere with his understated and cinematic keyboards. Other guests who contribute disparate yet complementary motifs are violinist Majid Khaliq and his agile melancholic strings, and rapper Rasheed Jamal with his powerful and hard hitting words. Porter's incandescent horn embellishes the main theme with suave elegance.
The recording closes on a hopeful note with "For Ellis" penned for Porter's infant son. The Hallowed Halls Gospel Choir's exalted refrains envelope Porter's lullaby-like melody which rises and falls with lyricism and poetry. Once again Porter has shown that he creates music which is both current and timeless, challenging and accessible. Certainly, having accomplished sidemen of similar artistic vision also helps make listening to Hindsight enjoyable and stimulating from beginning to end.
Tipping Point; Hindsight; Walking the Plank; Things Fall Apart; Requiem; In Short Supply; Going Viral;
Paradise Lost; For Ellis
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