Thursday, January 31, 2019
Harriet Tubman – The Terror End Of Beauty (Sunnyside, 2018) ****
By Chris Haines
This release sees Brandon Ross’s group, named after the American abolitionist, return as a trio after their previous release Araminta, which saw them expand to a quartet with Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet. Ross’s guitar playing has many dimensions to it and he has added his sound and improvisational quality to many albums over the years from the lost classic of the New Life Trio with Steve Reid, to his crucial contributions on Henry Threadgill Very Very Circus albums being particular stand-out favourites of mine.
Across the ten tracks The Terror End Of Beauty is full of strong grooves from the rhythm section and varying colourful sounds, mainly coming from Ross’s effected guitar. There is a continuity to the sounds throughout and the playing from all of the trio moves from tight rhythmic structures to a more expressive and improvisational feel in a natural way, such as on the title track where the more laid-back traditional harmonic theme gives way to a much noisier and freely melodic material. Combined with this there are some more soundscape and spacious moments that provide a breath of air and contrast to the more busy and full-on elements of the musical fabric.
The Terror End Of Beauty is a good strong album, which doesn’t disappoint, so for those who enjoy power trios this is certainly worth checking out.