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The seeds for the Revolutionary Ensemble were sown when Sunny Murray introduced violinist Leroy Jenkins to Sirone. The two found common musical ground that took off from several genres and became encapsulated in one body. At first they worked with Frank Clayton, but the drummer was ultimately replaced by Jerome Cooper.
Vietnam is the group's first recording. Divided into two parts the music moves across a wide expanse. Fluidity and fractured movement are put into a melting pot. What emerges is a document of the way in which the trio circumvented form and gave their music an impressive definition.
All three are votaries of the avant-garde forsaking norm to grab outlandish and atonal motifs, yet they do not hesitate to play a melody and take a lyrical approach the way they initially traverse the landscape of "Vietnam 1." Jenkins lays down a melody line and fills it with with a lusher body before Sirone snaps the mood with his bowing. The schematics of their operation are transformed on the go and dissonance is as much a part of their plan as straight, down-the-mainstream lines.
The trio never settles down into a predictable pattern. The creative fire is constantly burning, and if Jenkins casts aside the sweetness for a harsh trajectory, Sirone is there to find a complementary aisle. Cooper drives "Vietnam 2," peppering the drums with whirlwind polyrhythms. When silence dawns only to be tempered by a single beat, the time is rife for Jenkins to illuminate the context with torqued lines before they rise in lonely cry.
Nothing is as it seems, nothing is as it should be. And that makes this CD mesmerizing.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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