227

Lafayette Gilchrist: Soul Progressin'

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Baltimore pianist Lafayette Gilchrist has a style which satisfyingly combines two very different aesthetics: the funky and the sophisticated. He's been compared to keyboardists and composers Andrew Hill and Sun Ra, but his approach is more closely rooted in bassist Charles Mingus' work as a leader. Where Mingus' rhythmic and emotional foundation for composition and arrangement borrowed from gospel and the blues, Gilchrist's draws from those music's more recent offspring: hip hop, Washington go-go and funk. Like Mingus, Gilchrist layers the rhythmic bed with harmonically adventurous horns, and his own all-over-the-keyboard piano. His horn section, three saxophones and two trumpets, retains a raucous, downhome flavor while simultaneously, and magically, evoking Igor Stravinsky and contemporary classical composer Heiner Goebbels' dalliances with dissonance and angularity. It's a fierce and compelling synthesis.

Soul Progressin' is Gilchrist's third album with his eight-piece band the New Volcanoes, following The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist (Hyena, 2004) and Towards The Shining Path (Hyena, 2005). His most recent release was Three (Hyena, 2007), made with bassist Anthony "Blue" Perkins and drummer Nathan Reynolds, both members of the New Volcanoes.

Perkins and Nathan—whose funk and soul curriculum vitae includes a spell in singer Wilson Pickett's band—lay down reiterative grooves from which Nathan only rarely deviates, while Perkins takes a looser approach in which the bootalicious funk of classic-era Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins is writ large. Perkins' extended solo on the moody "Come Get Some" conjures up Collins at his wildest, framed by a broiling, harmonically dissonant horn arrangement which at times sounds like a newly discovered fortissimo passage from Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring (circa 1913).

This tension between the edgy and the good-time runs through most of Soul Progessin', hitting the head and the feet with equal force. Only the title track and "Uncrowned" deviate, and they're on a short rein. "Soul Progressin'" is unadorned funk, in which the horn section comes closest to a straightforward Stax or James Brown sound. The track is given character by Gilchrist's pumping, theme-centric solo and a growling, post-Cootie Williams trumpet workout from either Mike Cerri or Freddy Dunn. "Uncrowned" is for unaccompanied piano, and is dedicated to the late Andrew Hill.

The music's edginess is tinged with a feeling of anger and impatience, at its most powerful on the 9:35 "Those Frowning Clowns." The title, Gilchrist's liner notes explain, refer to "years of official lies and needless war (by) the current leadership." Mingus would almost certainly be enthusiastic about Lafayette Gilchrist, who's moving the music forward without losing sight of either its past or its potential for bringing about social change.


Track Listing: Soul Progressin'; Between Us; Come Get Some; Uncrowned; Those Frowning Clowns; Detective's Tip; Many Exits No Doors.

Personnel: Lafayette Gilchrist: piano; John Dierker: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Gregory L Thompkins: tenor saxophone; Gabriel Ware: alto saxophone; Mike Cerri: Trumpet; Freddy Dunn: trumpet; Anthony "Blue" Jenkins: bass; Nathan Reynolds: drums.

Title: Soul Progressin' | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Hyena Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Wobbly Danse Flower CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Danse Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Carry Fire CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017
Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Schönbrunn" CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read "New Life" CD/LP/Track Review New Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 25, 2017
Read "Cross My Palm With Silver" CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "A Woman's Work..." CD/LP/Track Review A Woman's Work...
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Living Tribute" CD/LP/Track Review Living Tribute
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 27, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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