By Paul Acquaro
Sacred Exhalations from Ra-kalam Bob Moses is a fiery affair, one where you can feel the music as much as you hear it. It is dense and pulsating at times and reflective and searching at others.
The opening track, 'Sacred Exhalations' is a wide-ranging and free affair. Instrumental voices rise and fall, searching tones and unfulfilled wails contrast with -- and ride upon -- Moses' strong pulse and kinetic drumming. The sound is full bodied and heartfelt, and the improvisation is captivating. The ten minute 'Invocations' is almost the title track's inverse, more inward looking, it builds off of a long drum and sax duet into a free and yearning mix of sax and bass clarinet swirling around each other. This can be contrasted again against the mournful tones and chanting found in 'Surrender to the One', which cannot help but to conjure up some rather striking and dark imagery.
Joining Moses is Stan Strickland on Tenor Saxophone and Bass Clarinet, Raqib Hassan on Tenor Saxophone, Musette, and Tibetan Horn, and Om-Mudra Tom Arabia on Tenor Saxophone. The oboe-like musette makes a spirited appearance on 'Animal Magnetizm (Zoo Illogical)' which is a rollicking and exciting affair.
Some obvious reference points may be to the recordings of Archie Shepp and latter day Coltrane, and perhaps even the Dunmall/Bianco album reviewed here a little while back. However, the commonality is not found in direct comparison, but rather in what recordings like these invoke -- a deep feeling of humanity and life connected by music.
'Sacred Exhaltations' is dense and full of passion. It would be hard to ignore its inspirational nature.