After a blindfold listening test, maybe the greatest compliment you can give Testament is to guess the leader's name to be drummer Chad Taylor, or maybe bassist Eric Revis, guitarist Marc Ribot or saxophonist Avram Fefer himself. This misapprehension is attributed to the equal footing each of the four musicians is given on the recording. Partly this, and credit must be shared with the mixing engineer Eli Crews for his application of parity.
Nevertheless, this is the Avram Fefer Quartet, an expansion of his trio with Revis and Taylor. The Avram Fefer Trio previously recorded Ritual (Clean Feed, 2009) and Eliyahu (Not Two Records, 2011). The addition here is Downtown guitarist Marc Ribot. It is a wonder Fefer and Ribot haven't recorded together before. Both players can apply a multitude of approaches to music, from jazz to funk to blues and rock. Here the quartet plies its trade to seven Fefer compositions and Taylor's "Song For Dyani," the South African jazz musician Johnny Mbizo Dyani. The latter piece was also the opening track on Eliyahu. Likewise, the title track can be heard on Ritual.
As the sounds are exchanged between musicians, so are the styles. The title track, dedicated to Ornette Coleman, is seared with a ceremonial progression before it veers into an Ayler-esque sound. An approach Ribot favors. The slow drag of "African Interlude" is bolstered by the strong pulse of Revis and Taylor's tuneful drumming. Fefer for his part can change perspectives with ease. Trying on his Albert Ayler coat or swapping for a Sonny Rollins feel on "Wishful Thinking" and maybe some Charles Lloyd with "Parable." There is an ease with exploration here, because Fefer doesn't carry the entire load. With these three partners, he can go just about anywhere.
Dean St. Hustle; African Interlude; Testament; Song For Dyani; Magic Mountain; Wishful Thinking;
Avram Fefer: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Marc Ribot: electric guitar; Eric Revis: acoustic bass;
Chad Taylor: drums.
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