|Sunnyside Records||(Feb. 24, 2017)|
Harriet Tubman — Araminta (Feb. 24, 2017) ↑↓★↑↓ Araminta není na poslech únavná, ale ani to není úplně jednoduché. Nefunguje dobře jako hudba v pozadí. Odměňuje však zvýšenou pozornost a kontrolu během celého záznamu. Zapojuje ucho od prvního tónu, ale je to také album, zvyšující expozici každou další rotací, stále více a více. A to jak v orientaci členitým terénem alba, mírou působení vychytávek na vnímavost, zpřehledněním postav a tématu a nakonec pocitově zlepšeným prostorem pro obrazotvornost. Poslech je klíčem k porozumění. Nechte album promlouvat k vám. Harriet Tubman svým kytarovým pojetím působí rozpálenou myslí, pomyslným displejem inspirovaného instrumentálního diskurzu mezi třemi velmi úspěšnými hudebníky ... mocným triem na rozdíl od mnoha jiných.
↑↓★↑↓ Araminta, the new album from free improv trio Harriet Tubman, takes their concept of “Spontaneous Composition” to new heights. After nearly twenty years as a group, Harriet Tubman — drummer J.T. Lewis, bassist Melvin Gibbs and guitarist Brandon Ross — have turned their vast knowledge and experience playing rock, jazz, blues, improv, gospel, folk, and more into their own musical language. To hear a rock beat behind a free playing jazz guitar isn’t about juxtaposition but connection. The weft of American music is African. It’s what ties the musical fabric together.
↑↓★↑↓ Araminta is not a tiring listen, but neither is it an easy one. It doesn’t function well as background music. However, it rewards attention and scrutiny. Engaging from the first, but it’s also an album that exposes more and more with each spin. Listening is the key to understanding. Let them talk to you.
Location: Brooklyn, New York, NY
Album release: Feb. 24, 2017
Record Label: Sunnyside Records
01 The Spiral Path To The Throne 6:05
02 Taken 3:04
03 Blacktal Fractal 5:16
04 Ne Ander 8:06
05 Nina Simone 7:26
06 Real Cool Killers 4:59
07 President Obama’s Speech At The Selma Bridge 7:02
08 Sweet Araminta 4:05
••• Brandon Ross: guitar;
••• Melvin Gibbs: bass;
••• JT Lewis: drums;
••• Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet Description:
★•• The anthroponym Araminta means “lofty” and “protective.” Araminta was also the given name of one of the most important figures in US and world history, abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer J.T. Lewis have proudly worn Harriet Tubman’s chosen name as their eponym for nearly 20 years, reaching for the heights of musical expression while preserving elements of their musical path.
★•• Harriet Tubman’s new recording Araminta is about becoming. It is also about evolution and collaboration. Just as Araminta Ross adopted the name Harriet on her path to legend, Harriet Tubman the band has taken the monumental name for their own partnership and sonic growth. The group’s lengthy association has allowed for an instinctive musical relationship among the members, who have affiliations with music and musicians spanning genres and the globe. Together, their music is a cumulative repository of their musical influences, a sort of transcendental blues.
★•• For Araminta, the trio invited the astounding trumpet player and musical conceptualist Wadada Leo Smith to add his unique sensibilities to their musical world as an electric improvisatory group. There is evidence of the musical weight that each musician has to bear. Each has his own approach to music, whether it be in motion, gesture or space. Their history comes through in the music they play, which spans nearly 50 years of black music. Though less “weighty” musicians might have found it intimidating to join a group as cohesive as Harriet Tubman, Smith fit right in. When their linguistic elements came together, Tubman and Smith immediately began a joint conversation.
★•• This ensemble is a manifestation of Tubman’s quest to maintain the thread of creative musical construction that had to a large extent existed in a state of suspended animation for the past 30 years or so in the U.S., a style of musical exploration that was largely blocked in favor of a more conservative brand of jazz. This compositional approach, which blends jazz, rock, funk, dub and electronic music into a reconfigured whole that is Tubman’s singular take on “free” music, is compositionally akin to, and melds easily with, Smith’s own ideas on spontaneous composition. His idea of “concentration of activity,” which frames sound in space and intensity without relying on notation, fit seamlessly within Lewis’s and Gibbs’s multivalent rhythmic constructions and alongside Ross’s personal remix of theoretical and compositional elements as expressed through his guitar.
★•• As a whole, these elements created an emergent compositional space, a matrix of creativity. None of the pieces on Araminta are traditionally notated. Some music was constructed using the quasi~fractal geometric constructions encoded in quilts made by the Shoowa peoples of Congo as the “score.” This method served to keep the ensemble’s music reflexive, allowing the members of the ensemble to respond to each other spontaneously.
★•• Recording engineer and producer Scotty Hard was intimately involved in the shaping of the music. He participated in the selection process of the raw recordings from the first two recording sessions, and helped shape the music from the third. He was a vital collaborator, and was instrumental in turning the recordings that make up Araminta into a powerful musical statement.
★•• The recording begins with the evocative “The Spiral Path To The Throne,” which begins with strident tones from the ensemble, breaking down into a simmering groove with a tremendous dialog between Ross and Smith. “Taken” floats atmospherically until the tension between the overdriven guitar, propulsive bass and rampant drums brings the piece to a controlled boil. Lewis’s steady backbeat introduces “Blacktal Fractal” and establishes a powerful groove with Gibbs that Smith and Ross’s plaintive melody soars over. “Ne Ander” is a powerful piece showcasing each individual on searing solos.
★•• “Nina Simone” is a sedate meditation with washes of sound that seem to float on a churning electric ether. The otherworldly groove and incendiary solos of “Real Cool Killers” shows the real strength of the trio as the crossroads of many paths of black music, from Funkadelic to Hendrix to Robert Johnson. Smith’s powerful “President Obama’s Speech at the Selma Bridge” is especially moving with the trumpeter communicating his intentions through the air and the trio responding in kind. The recording concludes with the beautifully restrained “Sweet Araminta,” an improvised ballad with an expressive guitar’s vox humana~like response to the smooth bass and skitteringly responsive percussion.
★•• What does freedom and equality sound like? Harriet Tubman are on a mission to inform the world and, with the addition of the great Wadada Leo Smith on their new Araminta, the ensemble proves that they have all the sonic information needed to be the next step in Black music’s evolution.
••★ This experimental soul/rock trio from Brooklyn counts Jimi Hendrix, Ornette Coleman, and Parliment~Funkadelic as contributors to its musical DNA. Between them guitarist and singer Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and Drummer JT Lewis have collaborated with artists as diverse as Cassandra Wilson, Living Colour, Lou Reed, Herbie Hancock, Henry Threadgill, Sting, Arrested Development, the Rollins Band, David Murray and Me’Shell N’degeocello. Their own sound is pure and liberated musical expression — a deep and soulful meditation on the concept of freedom.
••★ Harriet Tubman formed in 1998 when drummer J.T. Lewis, guitarist Brandon Ross and bassist Melvin Gibbs came together to start a band with meaning. Named after the heroic African~American slave who risked her life to escape from slavery and help more than 300 others to do the same, Harriet Tubman is deeply inspired by the ideals of freedom. The trio’s music — a fusion of soul, rock, jazz, and blues — examines the depths of these genres for their own unique liberated musical expression.
••★ Mitch Myers of Amazon raves that Harriet Tubman is “a mind~melting display of inspired instrumental discourse between three very accomplished musicians… a power trio unlike any other.”
••★ Integrating sampling and other digital methods into a compelling genre~defying sound, Harriet Tubman embraces the pioneering spirit of jazz. Re~contextualizing musical technology to create innovative compositions is an important part of the African~American tradition, and the trio sees Harriet Tubman as their contribution to that tradition. Always looking to musical history for meaning and inspiration, Lewis, Ross, and Gibbs present their music as a continuation of the musical innovation exhibited by such diverse artists as Ornette Coleman, Jimi Hendrix, Derrick May, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Parliament~Funkadelic.
••★ On their place in the musical ‘gene’ scene the band notes, “We feel that our choice to perform Open Music has a value and relevance that connects with a re~awakening, a new search for revived meaning that we see and experience wherever and whenever we perform. Our music does not dictate through genre, or demographic, how one ‘should’ relate to it.” Not just musical philosophers, Lewis, Ross, and Gibbs are hugely talented musicians. Music blog Bold as Love praises: “These three are consummate musicians who are at the top of their game. You can immediately tell when you are watching people who have mastered their craft: There’s an effortless responsiveness to the shifts in the music and to each other that say loud and clear that these people are doing something special.”
By MARK CORROTO, February 17, 2017 / Score: ****½
↑↓★↑↓ Things are urgent now. Actually, they have been critical for some time, but you might have chosen to ignore them. Politics, racism, sexism, war, inequality, and xenophobia are now issues that you must confront at home, work, in social media, and even within your bowling league. Everyone must have an opinion, and maybe that is the good news.
↑↓★↑↓ This consciousness of social justice has long been the well that artists and musicians draw from. Half a century ago Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released “Ohio,” chronicling the Kent State shootings, and before that was Dylan, Lennon, Sam Cooke, and later, Public Enemy, and Rage Against The Machine. The list is long, but somewhere along the way America stopped listening.
↑↓★↑↓ A band like Harriet Tubman, named after the ex~slave, abolitionist, suffragist, has been ‘on~message’ since their first release I Am A Man (Knitting Factory Works, 1998). HT is a power trio of guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer JT Lewis. Araminta their fourth disc, may have appropriated the Nixon 1974 re~election slogan, “now more than ever.”
↑↓★↑↓ It’s not that the lyrics are here to school you. Harriet Tubman brings the noise. And the funk. And the free jazz. Moreover, words are unnecessary when you invite a guest such as trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith to join the recording. A member of the AACM, Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012), a tribute to the Civil Rights Movement was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His trumpet explorations are the answer to the question of what Miles Davis would be up to were he still with us.
↑↓★↑↓ The message clicks from the opener, “The Spiral Path To The Throne.” Fuzzy electricity ushers in a bass and trumpet fanfare that morphs into an electric~Miles slow cooker. Smith draws from his Yo Miles! sessions with Henry Kaiser here, and Ross and Gibbs pull from their years in Cold Sweat. The music takes no prisoners, “Ne Ander” thunders heavy bass and shredded guitar effects with a rock pulse. The music is almost a gauntlet thrown at Smith. Undaunted, he blows stabbing trumpet lines into the clash. To quiet the struggle, the music switches gears with “Nina Simone” (another civil rights warrior), a brooding contemplative piece that focuses on Smiths empathetic horn washed with trancelike guitar effects and a slab of bass. The trio brings the heavy guns for “Real Cool Killers.” This part dub, part George Clinton Frankenstein monster, lumbers with gravity. The highlight of the session is the one composition Smith contributes, “President Obama’s Speech At The Selma Bridge.” Ross’ guitar summons the ghosts of Hendrix and Sharrock, while Lewis and Gibbs drive a fevered pace. While the exterior of the piece is calm, each player’s sound is ablaze with a hardcore passion. Let’s say it’s a call for justice. ↑↓★↑↓ https://www.allaboutjazz.com/
February 7, 2017
Feedback, Phil Overeem · Teacher Intern Supervisor, Mizzou Ed Program at University of Missouri ~ Columbia:
↑↓★↑↓ Three things in particular I like about this review. First, having listened to Araminta five times (so far), I am impressed as you are with how naturally Smith fits ~ I was uncomfortable calling the group a trio in my review. Second, Ross’ guitar playing? He accesses so many previous sources (I kept hearing McLaughlin, Sharrock, and Reid) but never so heavily that he’s not his own man. He shape~shifts more than those three, and I think that’s his commitment to the group concept talking. Third, you describe the sound of each composition “becoming” so well I am going to use this piece in my pop music~centered freshman comp class as an exemplar in making the kinda~abstract really concrete (my students are struggling with that, and — whaddya know? — your piece materialized at my moment of need). //// Notes:
★ Could anyone explain the meaning of the word ‘mind melt’ that I found in the following story?
★ The author once attended a conference of two thousand delegates. The presenter never once looked around at the screen behind him because, unlike most amateurs, he wasn’t using the slides as an aid to his memory. The very moment he asked the audience a question, the answer appeared on the screen. The author realized he wasn’t working the slides himself. Whoever he’d asked to work on them hadn’t been told not to show the audience the answer until they’d had chance to think about it. The audience had exactly the same thought, which was “Don’t tell him we can see the answer.” One of the audience answered the question. Then the presenter asked another question. Once again the answer appeared on the screen behind him. At this point, the mind melt reached its climax and right on cue two thousand voices shouted the answer.
Label: http://sunnysidezone.com/ // JT Lewis: http://www.jtlewis.org/
|Sunnyside Records||(Feb. 24, 2017)|