Friday, August 27, 2021

Muhal Richard Abrams, Soundpath, The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound


As I write this composer-pianist AACM founder Muhal Richard Abrams has been gone from us some four years. Yet of course his music lives on and sounds as wonderful as ever to me. With the upheaval of the Pandemic I may have gotten to an album of his big band music a few months later than I should have. Nonetheless the Soundpath Big band doing his composition The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound (Clean Feed CF556CD) transcends time and feels as evergreen as anything as I listen again this morning, so "never too late" seems to apply.

Soundpath is a talented gathering of Avant Jazz all-stars, a choice selection of improvisers and readers, all with the proper grasp and brilliance to make this 40 minute score come alive nicely and swingingly. Marty Ehrlich sounds great on alto and he conducts the whole as well. Bobby Zankel also gives us significant altoing and puts together the whole as the Musical Director. Steve Swell comes through as always with some wonderful trombone, Graham Haynes does his cornet-ing with excellence and you cannot beat the rhythm team of Tom Lawton on piano, Michael Formanek on bass and Chad Taylor at the drums.

The whole band is well rehearsed and on top of it all. The many-faceted score gives us the bite of Modern harmonies and multilayered contrapuntal Jazz in the open zone.

It is a marvelous example of the Abrams ultra-musical stance, his detailed approach to large group music along with a goodly space for improvisations that send the music forward.

This one is a must have for all Abrams enthusiasts, Modern big band appreciators, Art Jazz proponents etc. You cannot go wrong with it, in my opinion. Bravo!

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