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John Tchicai, Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille Witch's Scream TUM Records 2006
The name Tchicai is no stranger to post-everything creative music, but perhaps the name Margriet Naber Tchicai (wife of John) is not as well known as it should be. At its best, the Dutch pianist/composer's Colored Air presents a fresh compositional voice and even the superficially simplest solo piano conceptions are executed with obvious joy.
A track as seemingly straight forward as "Tinkerup exhibits eventual changes in tempo and intent as to remain interesting, despite a certain modal staticity. In the same vein, the title track exudes irresolution, a long sequential change of non-resolving thirds eventually leading to some Wagner-esque harmonic explorations as heartbreaking as they are naked. Then, there are the stark brutalities and angularities of "Paradise , maybe more akin to Messiaen's vision of that holy place than to any more conventional interpretation. After such intriguing dichotomies, the group tracks are a bit generic, but certainly not without appeal. The disc is certainly well-programmed to show compositional variety and should be heard for that reason alone.
Witch's Scream is a meeting of veterans - saxophonist John Tchicai, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille - all of whom, in one way or another, were associated with the '60s mode of expression that many in the Black Arts Movement called "The Yell . It's been 40 years and now these three show signs of a magical sublimation. Perhaps some of Margriet's meditative energy has infected John? All the better, as this disc absolutely bristles with energy just below a calm smooth surface.
"The Current comes the closest to revisiting the past, although it's miles away, churning a timbrally complex path through the remnants of free jazz. To an extent, it's the disc's anomaly, the first few gestures of "Andrea Calling telling an entirely different story. All three musicians have obviously absorbed cross-cultural influences and Cyrille's playing deserves special mention for a certain well-channeled eclecticism and textural innovation that goes a long way toward making the disc the success it is. One is left wondering what would happen if Margriet Naber Tchicai would compose pieces designed for her husband's Cyrille/Workman collaborations? The results would be interesting at least, probably revelatory, given her rhythmic and harmonic gifts and the group's telepathic communication.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Tinkerup; Sunshine, Mint and Basil; Mango Joya; La Nuit de Blanchard; Paradise; Row your love boat; Colored Air; Looking for Jerry; There's a lot you don't know; Largo Lapidarius.
Personnel: Margriet Naber Tchicai: piano; Babatunde Lea; Mark Oi; Erik Kleven; Reggy Marks.
Tracks: Andrea Calling; Monk's Dream; My Lady Lodie; The Secret; Proximity; Anders On The Loose; Beyond The Blue Horizon; Alice In Wonderland; Pannonica; Heksehyl (Witch's Dream); The Current.
Personnel: John Tchicai: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, vocals; Reggie Workman: bass and percussion; Andrew Cyrille: drums.