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.


  1. It's not Brandon Ross' band. It's a collective that has been around for a long time. Saw them in Seattle in support of the new album. Amazing.

  2. A weak review that ignores the history of the band and the other members.

  3. Guitar week on the free jazz blog has traditionally consisted of a lot of roundup reviews, short pieces that bring the various albums to people's attention. In the past they have usually been collated in a single posting, however this one has been posted as a single entity. This isn't meant to be a detailed review but more of a sign post for readers to find out more about the album for themselves.

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  5. As Chris correctly points out, we are running many reviews this week about guitar related music, some shorter, some longer. I chose to post this one along with several other recordings this day. We are very happy to be able to present this excellent album and hopefully it will point some readers to check out the recording.


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