Kinsmen is a groundbreaking project by alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa that melds jazz with South Indian music into a single organic whole. Mahanthappa, recently named a Top 10 alto saxophonist in the 2008 DownBeat Critic’s Poll, is one of the most innovative young musicians in jazz today.
I’ve been waiting for some forward thinking musician to intelligently combine the music of M-Base (which is both cerebral and funky but not particularly emotional) with elements of John Coltrane’s classic period modal innovations. Alto saxophonist Steve Lehman takes an impressive step in that direction with On Meaning.
Two Rivers is jazz master Amir ElSaffar's debut album as a leader; he is a well-seasoned musician in both the jazz world and the classical one. He has performed as a member of pianist Vijay Iyer's celebrated group, and with Cecil Taylor's, he has also played on the front line with the brilliant -- if less widely known -- alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's group (who returns the favor here).
In the 1970s and early '80s, the Revolutionary Ensemble lived up to its name. One of the major free improvising groups to emerge from Chicago's AACM, the unit featured stirring solos, tight but spontaneous ensembles and a unique sound formed by the blending of violinist Leroy Jenkins, bassist Sirone and drummer-percussionist Jerome Cooper.
Sad to say, these things (piano/sax duos) often don't work. One thinks of, e.g., the famous Shorter/Hancock flop, 1 + 1; or, again, the Lovano/Rubalcaba disappointment, Flying Colors. The first is too cerebral, the second too meanderingly boppish.
Since first declaring themselves the Art Ensemble of Chicago in Paris, 1969, the AEC have combined ritual, free jazz, and funk into an intense and irresistible whole, influencing generations of jazz and soul performers.
"George Lewis has been working the wavering line between jazz and contemporary classical thinking, and that potentially dangerous polystylistic attitude rings triumphant here ... his own voyage continues to be compelling, and, thankfully, impossible to pigeonhole." -- JAZZTIMES
"A brief glimpse into the rich world and mind of Muhal Richard Abrams." -- DOWN BEAT