Wednesday, July 11, 2007

8 Bold Souls - Sideshow (Arabesque, 1992) *****

Review from my list of the albums that I find absolutely terrific, even if not very recent.

8 Bold Souls is the band lead by Ed Wilkerson, and which is characterized by the deep sound of the horn section and the fascinating mix between heavily orchestrated and structured pieces, combined with very free improvizations. The emotional and musical power of this 8-strong ensemble is relatively unique and very recognizable. The band consists of Ed Wilkerson Jr - tenor, alto and bass saxophone, clarinet and alto clarinet; Mwata Bowden - clarinet, baritone, and tenor; Robert Griffin - trumpet and flugelhorn; Isaiah Jackson - trombone; Aaron Dodd - tuba; Naomi Millender - Cello; Harrison Bankhead - bass, and Dushun Mosley - drums and percussion. Just listen to the beginning of "Black Herman" in the sound sample below and you will get an idea of the dark, deep-toned menace the horn section can create, supported initially by a very sparse bass-line and ditto drums, changing the tempo after about five minutes, and then the band starts in full swing, with great solo pieces from all the musicians, including cello and bass. This album brings us also one of the best versions of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman", starting with a long, heart-breaking and piercing duet between arco bass and cello, wonderfully emphasizing the absolute sadness of a crushing loneliness, even more fully accentuated when the horns start with the well-known theme. Only this track by itself justifies the purchase of this album. This music is not changing music history, but it brings a great synthesis of orchestra music, free jazz and bop. Creative and very expressive.

Listen to sound samples (albeit too short for the average duration of 10 to 15 minutes)

Black Herman
Glass Breakers
Lonely Woman
Light On The Path

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