Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Mike Pride - Scrambler (Not Two, 2006) ****
It takes about five minutes into the first track before the drums start playing some explicit rhythm, yet in the meantime, this band, which includes Tony Malaby on sax, William Parker on bass and Charlie Looker on guitar, has managed to create a sound which is haunting and captivating, while reminding us that this is a drummer's album, in the sense that Pride's drumming is all over the place, creating an eery intensity from the very first seconds, and remaining on the forefront all through the track, together with Malaby's powerful sax. The album shifts in the second track, as Malaby firmly takes the reins in his hands, and the rest of the band follows suite, creating absolute intensity going full power into the highest possible tones of his tenor, to justified acclaim of the audience. Mike Pride is a young US drummer with great intensity and unrelenting drive and creative ideas, and he has played with some great jazz musicians such as Anthony Braxton. Charlie Looker is also a Braxton student and is also active in avant, jazz and rock/punk bands. Although Parker and Looker are excellent, they are very much in the supporting roles on this album, providing the necessary backbone and unity, accentuating when necessary, once in a while coming to the forefront. But Pride and Malaby are absolutely wild on this album, in a no-holds-barred attitude, playing as if their life depended on it. It is only after about half an hour, in preparation of the finale of the second piece, that - driven by Parker's bass - melody, even tenderness intervene, as a logical bridge to the more soft-spoken abstract third piece, where Looker and Parker consecutively build the piece, leading in for Malaby who plays slow, almost microtonal phrasings, while Pride is hitting for two in the meantime, propulsing the sax into top gear for some fierce and expressive blowing, which is the kind of thing you would not immediately associate with the title "A Prayer For Peace". The album ends with another track of close to half an hour, again starting of slowly, but then moving on into a strangely abstract cacophonic bop, first hesitantly, then gaining momentum and explode, but the longest part of the track is more introspective, the musicians circling around each other, creating new tones, alone, in duo or trio, without loosing any of the tension built up before. In sum, this incredibly intensive band combines the wild enthusiasm of two upcoming musicians, eager to demonstrate their ideas and skills, with the mature musical power of two worldclass jazz musicians. Energy and inventiveness, ideas and emotions, power and subtlety, intensity and interplay, you will find it all on this record, and with truckloads.
Listen to A Cry For Unity