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Muhal Richard Abrams is the grand patriarch of the AACM. He set-up shop on the ground floor as a co-founder of the Association in 1965 and has since served as one of the guiding forces behind its direction and longevity. Things To Come From Those Now Gone was Abrams third album for Delmark. It’s the last to be reissued by the label and remains one of Abrams most eclectic offerings. As if in deference to his position as educator the gathering of players on hand for the date is largely made up of AACM students. Abrams makes use of the musicians’ blossoming talents in a broad variety of harmonic and melodic ways. The poignant “Ballad For New Souls” merges his plaintive keys with McMillian’s ethereal flute in a reverie, which is both soothing and seductive. The title piece charges the collective batteries in a different manner thanks to McCall’s rolling mallets and the one-two punch of Daugherty an McMillian’s saxophones.“How Are You?” shifts emotional gears once again wedding Jackson’s keening soprano wails to Abrams’ lyric chordal movements. Jackson’s command over her vocal tract is at times suspect, but artistry of the tune remains intact nonetheless. Brown moves from fluttering grace to emotive stridency over the space of “In Retrospect” as Abrams metronomic clusters keep time. On “1 And 4 Plus 2 And 7,” a duet which spreads across nearly a quarter of the disc’s duration Abrams makes the dubious decision to switch to synthesizer half-way through. His electric apparatus ends up sounding akin to a harpsichord and is actually quite an intriguing change from his acoustic keyboard. Unfortunately the interaction characteristic of the piece’s first half is largely absent in the second and it sounds frequently like Abrams is feeling out his instrument rather than employing it with assurance. “March Of the Transients,” a vehicle fueled on high octane hard-bop, closes the set out with spirited solos by the saxophonists and the leader. Overall, though a mixed bag both in terms of content and quality this disc still packs an appreciable artistic wallop and is a welcome return to circulation.
Tracks/Players:Muhal Richard Abrams- piano; with- Ballad For New Souls: Wallace McMillan- flute/ Things To Come From Those Now Gone: Wallace McMillan- alto saxophone; Edwin Daugherty- alto saxophone; Reggie Willis- bass; Steve McCall- drums; Wilbur Campbell- drums/ How Are You?: Ella Jackson- vocal; Emmanuel Cranshaw- vibes; Rufus Reid- bass/ In Retrospect: Ari Brown- tenor saxophone; Rufus Reid- bass/ Ballad For Old Souls: Emmanuel Cranshaw- vibes; Rufus Reid- bass/ 1 And 4 Plus 2 And 7: Steve McCall- drums; Abrams- synthesizer/ March of the Transients: Wallace McMillan- alto saxophone; Edwin Daugherty- tenor saxophone; Reggie Willis- bass; Wilbur Campbell- drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.