Monday, December 8, 2014

Linda Sharrock, No is No

Linda Sharrock set the avant jazz community on fire in her days as co-conspirator with Sonny Sharrock, the late great guitarist and then-husband of Linda. She was a prime vocalist in the primal scream style that had nothing initially to do with Yoko Ono, but rather went along with some of Abbey Lincoln and Patty Waters sides in the first heyday of protest and avant expression. She and Sonny made several albums together in the '60s and then, for a time, nothing (at least that I am aware of). Nothing much of her after.

Her personal history in the intervening years I will leave to those who know it. The main thing is that she is back, very much so, and holds forth with some very fire-y music as the vocalist with a crack lineup of free-avant jazz artists today. No is No (Improvising Beings in 30) gives us two-CDs of Linda and company live, essentially going into space and creating a great noise there.

This is totally improvised music in the tradition of the old days where collective breathing of fire was a staple of the new thing. Linda is very much present, warming up and maintaining a certain level with "wah-wah-wah" soundings and then lifting the roof off the venue with some blood-curdling cries. It is not music for the timid, to say the least. But in her cries are the struggles to be faced by us all, especially those who do not feel themselves as participating in some sort of consensus world. It is a cry for freedom, of freedom, from a world where some still feel enchained.

And it's not just what she does on these sides, it's her vocalic-volcanic presence and how it inspires the instrumental sextet to outreach themselves and reach for the stars. This is one of the most extreme recent examples of avant jazz in terms of sheer energy, a calling out, a cry of existence, for existence.

Reedist Mario Rechtern and pianist Eric Zinman turn in especially strong performances here. But then Itaru Oki on trumpet (especially), Makoto Sato on drums and Yoram Rosilio on bass are very much key as well. This is collective, fired-up mayhem at its classic best.

It will smoke you. You either give in to the reaching out of our stratosphere and join the flight into the beyond, or you walk away. There is no in-between because this music will not work for you on any other level than participation. You are the Fifth Beatle, the Lost Tribe, the Godot who appears or you are left behind.

And in that this is superlative hot-freedom blowing and vocalizing. If you are ready for it, it is here for you. Anybody who finds Sun Ra at his most intense, Ascension at its cacophonic best or a number of classic other free dates . . . . If that is a world you gladly inhabit, then this is for you! If you don't know what that means, you may find this blissful if you open yourself to it anyway. It clears out anything remotely prevaricating and gives you pure truth. Not necessarily the truth, for there is more than one. That's how I feel. It sends me out there!

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