For those of you who can't wait until the end of the month to experience the high caliber of creative music that is always part of the Vision Festival, Song of Time catches an inspired 2001 Festival performance by the NAM quartet. This direct-to-DAT recording perfectly captures the intimate excitement that can happen at Vision when expert musicians from diverse backgrounds cooperatively gel into a creative whole. A transgenerational multicultural grouping, NAM consists of trumpeter and leader Ahmed Abdullah, baritone saxophonist Alex Harding, and a young rhythm section of Masa Kamaguchi on bass and drummer Jimmy Weinstein.
An updated version of Ornette Coleman?s early composition ?Chippie? cooks with a bop intro that has the rhythm section in full swing as Kamaguchi and Weinstein pump and push Abdullah and Harding to explore this piece?s previously uncharted areas. Things slow down as the title cut?s meditative trumpet opener interplays with baritone to feature Harding?s ?bluesy? expertise, answered in kind by Abdullah?s own musical moan. Harding plumbs the depths and scales the heights of his instrument?s wide range, turning Jimmy Weinstein?s impelling improvisational tour-de-force ?Ad Hoc Ism? into a funky rocker.
Abdullah?s personal rap, delivered in a voice as rich as Harding?s sax, hearkens back to the ?60s Lower East Side (emphasis on the East) and is the perfect bridge to the band?s version of Gunter Hampel?s tribute piece, ?Serenade for Marion Brown.? Both frontmen exchange and play in tandem to take advantage of their seldom-paired instrumentation, presenting the piece as an intriguing soundscape. The beautifully traditional Brazilian melody of ?Canto 2 Canto II? is at first mutated by Abdullah?s horn before he and Harding play it straight, allowing Abdullah to vocally duet with both Kamaguchi and Harding. Song of Time is a faithful record of a memorable musical event.
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