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Greg Wall: Later Prophets

Dan McClenaghan By

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What do you recommend for that always-searching jazz fan who has heard everything? Maybe a CD by Hasidic New Wave (how's that for a category?) saxophonist/clarinetist/composer Greg Wall.

The story of Ezekiel inspired Wall's latest offering, Later Prophets : Ezekiel ..."whose prophecy resurrecting dry bones after the destruction of the temple contains a great message of hope."

Not to worry, though, if you aren't familiar with the traditional music used to chant the biblical prophecies that Wall draws upon. The sound on Later Profits leans heavily on modern jazz, with the opener, "The Bone Drew Near" coming to life with an Albert Ayler-ish saxophone cry backed by some Fender Rhodes dissonance before it evolves into a piece of stirring contemplation.

This trio'Wall on sax and clarinet, Shai Bacher on keyboards, and Aaron Alexander on drums, with Gary Lucas sitting in on guitar on two tunes'creates a soundscape suffused with a feeling of an exploration of deep mysteries, in the mode (if not the sound) of A Love Supreme era John Coltrane. All this thanks in large part to Bacher's keyboards that swirl lush backdrops that are by turns haunting, anguished, or chilling'befitting the subject matter at hand.

On paper a project like this—involving the mysteries of religion—can come across as sort of heavy-handed, didactic to the point of ponderousness. Wall and crew avoid that; this is an unusual and fascinating jazz set on any terms, with the story behind the sounds serving as a bonus to the interested listener.

Track Listing: The Bones Drew Near, Zekiel Saw the Wheel, Among the Exhile by the River Kiver, Death and Resurrection, Malachi, Stoliner Nigun, Ofan (A Wheel Within a Wheel), Can These Bones Come to Life?, Lamentations

Personnel: Greg Wall--tenor sax, clarinet; Shai Bacher--keyboards; Aaron Alexander--drums; Gary Lucas--guitar on tracks 3 & 9

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Tzadik | Style: Modern Jazz


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