Perhaps not as well-known as others who share similar faculties, trumpeter Baikida Carroll has earned respect and accolades for years, while performing with the late, great saxophonist/composer Julius Hemphill, pianist Jay McShann, bassist Charlie Haden and many others of note. However, Carroll’s expertise also lies within his multifarious approach to composition amid countless scores for Broadway. With his first outing as a leader in six years, the artist once again demonstrates acute technical skills along with his stature as a gifted composer who here, reaps the benefits of a power house ensemble.
Essentially, Marionettes On A High Wire boasts an amalgamation of variable swing vamps, elegantly rendered shifts in meter and memorable melodies, awash with blistering yet finely articulated soloing by the leader, saxophonist Erica Lindsay and veteran jazz pianist Adegoke Steve Colson. Furthermore, the all world rhythm section of bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Pheeroan akLaff subsidize the band’s often oscillating movements and brisk pace.
Carroll’s “Griot’s Last Dance” is all about booming rhythms, free jazz undertones and diminutive themes in accordance with the musicians’ sparkling communal dialogue. “Our Say” is a soft ballad, punctuated by Formanek’s expressive lines and Colson’s delicate frameworks, while “A Thrill A Minute” provides the listener with hard-Bop-ish unison choruses and a profoundly stated melody that is guaranteed to seize your mind’s eye! (A testament to Carroll’s wondrous compositional pen).
The excitement continues with “Flamboye” as the band skirts free-jazz territory in conjunction with crisp, tightly organized choruses and circular passages as Carroll’s latest release equates to one beautifully fabricated production, that imparts a lasting impression. Now, we can only hope that Baikida Carroll sustains fewer gaps between recordings! Recommended!!