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New Atlantis Octet: Unto The Sun

Mark Corroto By

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Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore and ex-Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins have brought free jazz players to the attention of new and younger audiences. Moore has recorded with and promoted the music of Paul Flaherty, William Hooker, John Zorn, Chris Corsano, and Mats Gustafsson and Rollins (back in the 90s) with Matthew Shipp, Roscoe Mitchell, and Charles Gayle.

Same can be said for Edward Ricart of the free-rock duo Matta Gawa (with drummer Sam Lohman) and the avant-rock trio Hyrrokkin. He has collaborated with Paul Dunmall, Peter Brötzmann, and Merzbow. His efforts to incorporate free jazz in his music have led to a quartet with trumpeter Herb Robertson, bassist Jason Ajemian, and drummer Andrew Barker. In 2011, they released Ancón (Slam).

That same quartet, sans Robertson, is expanded here into an octet by adding second drummer Lohman and second bassist Vattel Cherry to a frontline horn section of saxophonist Aaron Martin, trumpeter Roy Campbell, and trombonist Steve Swell.

The two lengthy pieces (35 and 37 minutes) are examples of free jazz instant composing that charges forward with the dynamism of rock and the fraternity of jazz. Set against the passionate pulse of "Sekhmet," the Octet forges a platform for the braiding of horns and the splicing of Ricart's guitar into an animated stew. The octet is content to parboil, as individual voices solo over the stew. For such a busy session and crowded stage, the recording is first rate. The second track, "Amaterasu" grips tighter on the throat. The two drummers, Barker and Lohman engage the band in an endurance contest matching energy drumming against the other's countenance. When the intensity does break, the relative quiet of the improvising continues to crackle and sizzle with a satisfying ferocity.

Track Listing: Sekhmet; Amaterasu.

Personnel: Steve Swell: trombone; Roy Campbell Jr: trumpet; Aaron Martin: alto saxophone; Edward Ricart: guitar: Jason Ajemian: bass; Vattel Cherry: bass: Sam Lohman: drums; Andrew Barker: drums.

Title: Unto The Sun | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Not Two Records


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