Late saxophonist John Tchicai's roots and influences emanated with the 1960s innovative free-jazz ensemble, The New York Art Quartet. He became a significant global artist in all things considered to be cutting-edge within the ever-expansive jazz vernacular. This 2007 concert, recorded at the New York City venue Birdland, features compositions by guitarist Garrison Fewell and one track written by Tchicai. Ultimately, the album is unique from a perspective that includes sojourns into the avant jazz space, while containing memorably melodic themes, often standing as reference points amid the all-star group's improvisational dialogues. Thus, many free-form outings customarily reside in either total abstraction, or at times, meld dissonance with faint doses of melody. In a loose sense, Tribal Ghost is an exception to the rule.
Tchicai and multi-woodwind ace Charles Kohlhase inaugurate thematic construction atop a blithe ostinato with yearning notes and Fewell's shady and tuneful lines. They subsequently raise the pitch and open it up, gelled by Tchicai's steely tenor sax phrasings. Consequently, each piece features the frontline's spirited voicings, as they bridge harmony and discord with soulful balladry and portentously crafted motifs. "Dark Matter" idealizes these factors, prominently supported by Cecil McBee's deep bass lines. Here, the band renders mood-evoking sentiment while Fewell underscores and circles around the core mantra. But "Llanto Del Indio," offers a trance-like aura, set forth by the bassist's nimbly plucked ostinato groove. As Tchicai and Kohlhase acquire vocal characteristics via their bluesy phrasings above drummer Billy Hart's understated Latin pulse. Otherwise, their meticulous plot developments are spiced with vivid expressionism, but once again Fewell tempers the intensity level with windswept movements and transcendent overtones. To summarize, Tribal Ghost is an unhurried production, incited by the musicians' concentrated focus and seamless distribution of colorific improvisational segments and well- defined narratives.
Tribal Ghost; The Queen of RA; Dark Matter; Llanto Del Indio.
John Tchicai: tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Carlie Kohlhase: alto,
tenor and baritone saxophones; Garrison Fewell: guitar and percussion;
Cecil McBee: bass; Billy Hart: drums.
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