Sigh!! Dammit, I'm a critic, and I'm supposed to rip the lungs out of musicians and their albums, write waspish snarkery, lament the end of civilization, and generally make everyone sorry they ever opened the paper or web page, but when the Zoho label insists on issuing genius level jazz reaching over into neoclassicalism and then just gets more and more outrageously excellent each passing month, what the hell can I do?? Since pissing off ECM and its Universal distribution pelican heads (you know the pa-Tina I'm talking about), I was adrift and aimless, estranged from truly great neo-forms until well into my FAME residency, and then PR guy Jim Eigo started sending these transcendent Z discs. Well, I've been brainwhacked ever since, and whatever the cure is, I don't want it.
Now comes Mark Weinstein to revivify the flute back to its old arcane jazz glories. Not only can the guy play something wicked but his choices of outside jazz "standards" along with pianist Aruan Ortiz's compositions and stellar arrangements are nothing short of heroic…and that's saying nothing of the latter guy's magnificent ivory tickling. Take Sam Rivers' 9:02 Dance of the Tri-Pedal as just one instance. Atop a percolating herky-jerky bass foundation by Rashaan Carter dancing all around the peripatetic drums and percussion, Weinstein tears up his metal muse while Ortiz first embellishes and then comps under him just before, as the flute fades out, getting righteously obtuse in a long meaty mid-section.
The pulse and complexities are hypnotic, and I'm somewhat reminded of Pepe Mtoto's old Love Love minus all the psychedelic backwash and a hell of a lot more intense. Then Andrew Hill's semi-balladic For Emilio crops up and demonstrates how much the ensemble can accomplish even when dialed back. Flavors of one of my favorite way-obscure 80s indie ensembles—The Exiles, guys who were ultra adept at inducing jazz jungles and glorious bric-a-brac—creep in and out here and in many passaages thoughout the CD. I recently reviewed Alex Garcia's Afromantra (here) and have to wonder if the burgeoning Zoho influence hasn't affected his wonderment-inducing work as well. The guy certainly thinks on the same level, and that's what most exemplifies all of this: a mode of brainiac-ery that's definitely post-modern while restorative of hidden elder depths. Weinstein has it, Ortiz has it in incredible degree, and Gerald Cleaver and Roman Ortiz, the percussionists, have it…but that Carter and his bass: diabolical!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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