Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mike Reed's People, Places & Things' "Stories and Negotiations"

This drummer-led ensemble is intended to pay homage – via its repertoire and the presence of respected elders -- to the impressive (although often obscure) jazz heritage of its hometown, Chicago. In this case, the elders include multi-instrumental bopper Ira Sullivan, heard here on tenor sax, and a pair of Sun Ra alumni, trumpeter Art Hoyle and trombonist Julian Priester. Improbably, however, this 2008 live recording has the feel of a classic Charles Mingus recording from the era (ca. 1959) when the titanic bassist-composer was producing masterworks like Blues and Roots and Mingus Ah Um seemingly on demand.

Perhaps it’s the Ellingtonian horn polyphony (including two trombones), or maybe it’s the loose-limbed propulsion leader Mike Reed brings to the proceedings, reminiscent of Mingus’ man Dannie Richmond in the way his traps always support the compositions. The band swings relentlessly, with a forward motion that’s always organic, never slick, and the improvised statements feature more interplay than a conventional string-of-solos approach would allow. Most valuable player on the date is bassist Jason Roebke, who provides a solid foundation of agile, muscular lines. There are reminders here of how “in the tradition” Sun Ra truly was – dig his bluesy holler “El is a Sound of Joy” or Priester’s “Urnack,” first recorded by Ra’s Arkestra in ’56, which starts out otherworldly, then stomps off on “I Got Rhythm” changes. Reed’s a 21st century bandleader worthy of mention alongside Ra and Mingus. Cop via


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