Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

10

Nick Mazzarella and Tomeka Reid: Signaling

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
On this captivating, fully-improvised duo recording by alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and cellist Tomeka Reid, we find a superlative example of two leading-edge musicians who continue to draw vital inspiration from their forbears. Reid, a contributing member of the hugely influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), has previously paid tribute to some of the titans of that organization—figures such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Leroy Jenkins, Roscoe Mitchell, and Fred Anderson—with Artifacts, her superb 2015 trio release with Nicole Mitchell and Mike Reed. Mazzarella, whose work has included stints with Ken Vandermark's Chicago Reed Quartet and Audio One projects, has similarly acknowledged his debt to pivotal altoists such as Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, and Julius Hemphill. Indeed, from the opening track of Signaling, "Blues for Julius and Abdul," their dedicatory homage to Hemphill and his long-standing musical partner, cellist Abdul Wadud, it's clear that Mazzarella and Reid have immersed themselves in the waters of 1970s and 1980s avant-garde jazz. The results are invigorating and inspiring.

Both players have impeccable technique: Reid is equally proficient at stirring arco phrases and dynamic pizzicato attacks, while Mazzarella can deliver frenzied upper-register passages at astonishing speed. But on this release it's the melodic contours of their playing that really stand out. Listening to Mazzarella's yearning phrases on "Blues for Julius and Abdul," one is reminded of Hemphill's own steadfast dedication to melody and groove—an enduring feature of even his most outward-bound playing. Even when pushing himself to the limit, as on the impassioned, rapid-fire dialogue on "Interstices," or his strenuous overblowing on "Rediscovery of an Age," Mazzarella's strong musical core is never far from the surface.

Reid brings the same sensibility to her playing throughout the record. With exceptional command over her instrument, her generosity enables her to sustain the rapport that characterizes the most transcendent tracks on the record, like the mysterious, pulsing "Like So Many Drops of Water," or "Invoking a Spirit," the ethereal closer. Just listen to the spare accompaniment she provides on the hypnotic "The Ancestors Speak": as Mazzarella teases out agonizingly slow, languorous notes, Reid's understated yet insistent pizzicato offers the perfect support, helping to build a gradual intensity until the piece reaches its culmination and Mazzarella's alto finally diminishes and subsides.

It is a delight to hear the spirit of the some of the most formative years of avant-garde jazz advanced with such skill and reverence by these two outstanding improvisers. Both do justice to their musical forerunners' legacy with music that is both beautiful and expertly played.

Track Listing: 1. Blues for Julius and Abdul; 2. Signaling; 3. Like So Many Drops of Water; 4. Interstices; 5. The Ancestors Speak; 6. Topographies; 7. Rediscovery of an Age; 8. Let It Be Known; 9. Invoking a Spirit.

Personnel: Nick Mazzarella – alto saxophone; Tomeka Reid – cello.

Title: Signaling | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Nessa Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Little Giant Still Life" CD/LP/Track Review Little Giant Still Life
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "In The Green Castle" CD/LP/Track Review In The Green Castle
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Very Early" CD/LP/Track Review Very Early
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Hush Point III" CD/LP/Track Review Hush Point III
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Ida Y Vuelta" CD/LP/Track Review Ida Y Vuelta
by James Nadal
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "To the Bone" CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by John Kelman
Published: August 26, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!