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Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell & Susie Ibarra

Martin Longley By

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The players leap right in, en masse, their leader blaring with a serrated edge, conducting staccato strikes, which lead into a sparse vocal/piano section, with faint trumpet striations. Smith is on bristling form, collecting a halo of energy around his being. It's intriguing to catch Laswell in freer mode, as a sideman rather than leader, so here less inclined towards establishing dominant grooves. Smith strikes again, prompting forceful ensemble blows, with a crashing of detailed twin-drum patterns. Ibarra is the more inventive of the sticks-pair, continually introducing fresh approaches, playing with fingertips, rubbing, striking and booming, with varying degrees of sensitivity, flicking and flashing on cymbals. It's akLaff who takes care of the underlying thrust, using a more direct free jazz language. Shyu ends up being too omnipresent, rarely resting on the vocal front. Ultimately, Smith's split-nature of freedom and control attained a dynamic level, and his choice of players was impeccable, creating a rarely heard combination of styles and stances.

Photo Credit: R.I. Sutherland-Cohen

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