Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

391

Dan Wilson / Mark Huggett Project: Max Roach Park

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Too few musical groups call themselves "projects"; perhaps they fear unwarranted comparison with the Alan Parsons Project (you know, "I Am The Eye In The Sky"). As indeed they should.

Some groups nevertheless really are projects, which is to say, not necessarily long-term relationships but rather short to medium-term agglomerations of talent, with a fixed objective and a focused vision. So it is with Max Roach Park, the new record by the Dan Wilson/Mark Huggett Project. (The record is named for a park in the Lambeth borough of London.)

The inputs on Max Roach Park are the largely discredited raw materials of a lot of New Age products: a vaguely spiritual subject matter, sound samples from the traditional music of many continents, and most of all a pleasant but bland hypnotic style tending toward quietism. English drummer Huggett and South African bassist/keyboardist Wilson refashion these elements, casting in greater relief the worthy elements therein: trance and texture.

Huggett and Wilson emphasize the repetitive, trance-inducing qualities of the music, something they share with their less interesting New Age brethren. They remind us that this now-diluted practice has robust, energetic precedents: you can hear the spirit of bracing Moroccan Gnawa music in the relentless riffs of the Count Basie Orchestra, or of Funkadelic. This lineage is echoed on the record's opener, "Vuleka." Its rhythmic elements—taut funk by the leaders, overlaid with South African group chanting—lock together according to some evident metric correspondence, but not without sounding at every point as though they are trying to pull the other elements apart. Mesmerizing.

Further along the trance continuum is the crystalline, contemplative electric music of Miles Davis's In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969)—which no one ever labelled "New Age." Huggett and Wilson successfully inscribe Max Roach Park in that vein.

Within tracks there is considerable textural variety: witness the guitar and trumpet lines on "Tau Ceti," or the circular African rhythm wedded to a nagging sax honk on "William Blake." (Blake was another artist who refused to water down his spiritual aspirations. And he was from Lambeth, too.) So too in the track sequencing there are topographical ups and downs along the way, from the crisp funk of "Vuleka" to a long, meditative closing "Pray."



Huggett and Wilson clearly never meant to make anything like a New Age record; I hope not to have caused confusion. If anything, their musical ethos is nearer to that of Jim Black's Alasnoaxis (whom they even sonically resemble on "A Greener Room," with its downcast, Downtown rock 'n' roll guitar): a deceptively simple and unostentatious combination of elements that nevertheless strikes a deep-seated emotional chord.

Track Listing: Vuleka; Mr M.D.; Zuni; Fireweed; Mello; William Blake; The Forty Niner; Bells; Chesil; No Mans Land; Kenyon; Tau Ceti; A Greener Room; Pray.

Personnel: Dan Wilson: basses, keyboards; Mark Huggett: drums; James Tartaglia: tenor saxophone; Silas Wood: guitar; Dave Warren: guitar; Yngvil Vatn Guttu: trumpet; Gina Selby: vocalisations; Teresa Walsh: flute.

Title: Max Roach Park | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Jazz Direct Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Contra la indecision CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Vessel in Orbit CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Pulse/Quartet CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "King Of Xhosa" CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Kami Fusen" CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by John Sharpe
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Discoveries on Tracker Action Organs" CD/LP/Track Review Discoveries on Tracker Action Organs
by John Eyles
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Stratus" CD/LP/Track Review Stratus
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 11, 2017
Read "Gold" CD/LP/Track Review Gold
by Jim Olin
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath" CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 6, 2018