122

Hugh Ragin: Revelation

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Hugh Ragin: Revelation Houston-born and Colorado-based trumpeter Hugh Ragin long ago grasped the essential connections between modern jazz sophistication and soulful energy, but he has never articulated them as clearly and comprehensively on record as on Revelation. Ragin has been responsible for a recent string of releases on Justin Time, in addition to his recognized association with David Murray. He's joined on this all-original program by multi-reed player Assif Tsahar (on whose Hopscotch label he released Sound Pictures for Solo Trumpet two years ago), bassist William Parker, and drummer Hamid Drake.

Listening to Revelation brings to mind a range of similar musical experiences delivered by Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and lesser-known forces from the realm of the so-called avant-garde. Indeed, these players are all eager to stretch the boundaries of form. The opening "Restoration Intensive" gets started with a brief, Ornette-ish head with loosely interseamed horns, then Tsahar takes free bop into uncharted territory on tenor, followed by Ragin's own probing outreach and a brief plucked-then-bowed solo from Parker. The actual composition plays a subordinate role to creative improvisation, setting the stage for much of the rest of the record.

The more recognizably melodic, swinging, and lightly funky feel of "Kamal's Gift" is regularly reinforced by Drake's in-the-pocket drumming and Parker's regular (though often indirect and never predictable) emphasis on the one. Soulful, bluesy gestures dominate both trumpet and saxophone solos; Tsahar sounds uncommonly earthy despite his energetic delivery. Oddly enough, you might just find yourself humming along by the time the memorable head returns toward the end.

But that tune is really an exception to the relative intensity which dominates the rest of the record. So, too, is the fifteen-minute title track, the centerpiece of the record, which coveys a sense of meditative contemplation, cloudy skies, and outreach toward reconciliation. Once these tones have blown past, you're in for a twist of fate on "The Battlefield," where martial drums and bugling break into wavering horns (the ghost of Ayler looms heavy here) and eventually shrill shouts and screams.

Subsequent events on "Skull Hill" explore the nasal tones of the musette, shimmering with a North African tint and matched by rolling drums. By the time "Speak to the Mountain" blasts its way into the picture toward the end, you're in for a heaping serving of barely restrained energy over a cascading, overflowing, insistent pulse. But here and at all other stages along the way, Ragin and his quartet imbue the music with a palpably soulful feel. This is not the sort of clinical experimentation that marks British free jazz, for example; these rich, full-bodied statements come straight from the heart and don't lose track of the music's organic roots.


Track Listing: Restoration Intensive; Kamal's Gift; Revelation; The Battlefield; Skull Hill; Night Life; Wormwood; Speak to the Mountain; Next Time

Personnel: Hugh Ragin (trumpet, piccolo trumpet, pocket trumpet), Assif Tsahar (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, musette), William Parker (bass, musette, pocket trumpet), Hamid Drake (drums, percussion)

Title: Revelation | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Justin Time Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read L.O.T.U.S. CD/LP/Track Review L.O.T.U.S.
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Art in the Age of Automation CD/LP/Track Review Art in the Age of Automation
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Passing and Longing and There Is Only a Trace Left" CD/LP/Track Review Passing and Longing and There Is Only a Trace Left
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "What Doesn’t Kill You" CD/LP/Track Review What Doesn’t Kill You
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Henry" CD/LP/Track Review Henry
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Umbra" CD/LP/Track Review Umbra
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 31, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.