263

His Name Is Alive: Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute To Marion Brown

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
His Name Is Alive: Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute To Marion Brown Starting with a bold and beautiful idea—to perform a concert tribute to an iconic musician from an earlier age while that musician is still with us—His Name Is Alive have gone on to record an album of such oh-my-god beauty and vitality that the listener may at first be reduced to silent, slack-jawed wonder. And while we'll never know whether trumpeter Miles Davis would have approved bassist/producer Bill Laswell's reconstruction of his music on Panthalassa (Columbia, 1997), we do know that alto saxophonist Marion Brown loves Sweet Earth Flower, which he has warmly endorsed.

Brown, born in Atlanta in 1935, came to notice in New York in the mid 1960s as a member of the emergent free jazz movement. He played on one of that school's most uncompromising discs, saxophonist John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965), and went on to record similarly abrasive albums of his own for the ESP label.

But as with his near contemporaries, the saxophonists Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders, a prettier and more lyrical strand has always co-existed in Brown's music. This is particularly true of his composing, which began to be enriched in the 1970s by his interest in African, and other non-European derived, musics. It is to Brown's magical and restorative, tuneful songbook rather than his free improvising adventures that Sweet Earth Flower pays most attention.

Guitarist/pianist Warn Defever's extraordinary His Name Is Alive, here augmented by members of fellow Michigan, nouveau Afro-funk band Nomo, present Brown's work as a suite, with each track morphing or being mixed into the next. The atmosphere is simultaneously retro—with its powerful evocations of Pharoah Sanders' and harpist/pianist Alice Coltrane's late 1960s, percussion-rich, incense and bells astral jazz—and new millennial—elegantly travelling alongside post-modern, post-jam band groups like Mushroom and Mysteries Of The Revolution. Trippy, African-derived drum and percussion passages alternate with robust trumpet, multiphonic tenor saxophone, and fuzzed-up, fed-back and otherwise distorted electric guitar improvisations, the latter referencing equal quantities of Larry Coryell and Sonny Sharrock. Every second is a delight.

In his endorsement, Brown pays HNIA the ultimate compliment: "You really understand me." An under-the-skin devotional masterpiece, Sweet Earth Flower is a thing of rare beauty, and not to be missed.

Track Listing: Sweet Earth Flying; Juba Lee Brown; Capricorn Moon (live); November Cotton Flower; Bismillah 'Rrahmani 'Rrahim; Geechee Recollections (live); Geechee Recollections; Sweet Earth Flying (live).

Personnel: Warn Defever: guitar, piano; Elliot Bergman: tenor saxophhone, Rhodes piano; Jamie Saltsman: double bass; Justin Walter: trumpet; James Easter: percussion; Dan Piccolo: drums, percussion; Michael Herbst: alto saxophone; Erik Hall: Wurlitzer electric piano; Olman Piedra: congas, cajon.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: High Two Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Soul Garden CD/LP/Track Review Soul Garden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Authorized Bang Collection CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Simplicity" CD/LP/Track Review Simplicity
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Seven Storey Mountain V" CD/LP/Track Review Seven Storey Mountain V
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Live In Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Super Petite" CD/LP/Track Review Super Petite
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Lingo" CD/LP/Track Review Lingo
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 10, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!