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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Pat Thomas & XT (Seymour Wright, Paul Abbott) with Will Holder - “Akisakila” / Attitudes of Preparation (Mountains, Oceans, Trees) (Edition Gamut, 2022)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

It doesn’t make me very happy but there’s a certain polarization that’s sweeping many western societies (including the one I live) right now. On the one pole you have all this neoliberal, racist, fascist, misogynic dreadful rhetoric that, thankfully, provokes many healthy reactions from all those people that still believe a better world is possible. Music (as always) couldn’t stay away or hide from this struggle.

I’m really happy to comment that a lot of people seem to look back at the great, radical tradition of free jazz and improvisation as a means to express or, even, free themselves. I do not know if this may sound like hubris, even to emancipate themselves as human beings and artists. We know by now that free jazz in the 60’s and 70’s, before it became commodified, was a force of change in many ways. The sad part in my miniscule dialectic is that it had to be for this polarization for a lot of people to look back with new eyes. But a lot of people do and the products are fruitful and forward thinking. And, yes, it is indeed great Black music, ancient to the future.

There isn’t a lot to say, that hasn’t been said, about the music of Cecil Taylor, one of the greats for 20th century music. As for the duo of XT, Seymour Wright and Paul Abbott are continually pushing the envelope by being one of the few who still can be recognized as making new music –whatever that means in 21st century music. They have also made it to my top ten lists for this site, if that matters to anybody.

Apart from the music itself in “Akisakila” /Attitudes of Preparation, which is burning free jazz, what strikes me as more important is that the three of them (with Pat Thomas on the piano in full blow out form) create something like a bridge connecting the past with the present. This double vinyl (yes!, we the fetishists applaud in joy) is not a product of three musicians who rely on the past and it’s not, either, the result of the present manifestations of what jazz is. The three of them have managed to create a timeless album, one that incorporates music, words with radical avant-garde tactics and practices.

All the above are handled in the most sublime way. This is not a showing off of how deep informed they are about jazz or about the amazing, still to be discovered, work of Cecil. It is just three great musicians that present their music, or their take on musics past and present if you like. As our societies are immersed in negativity, art will (or I wish it will) present one of the barriers to stop all this. “Akisakila” /Attitudes of Preparation is one of the works that stays in the forefront, on the right side of history and in a more banal point of view should be a strong candidate for best album of 2022.

Dig in.



Nick said...

Terrific review Fotis, you guys are sure making the case for this album.

Stuart Broomer said...

Terrific--the review addresses the music's full humanity...

Lee said...

Fotis, thanks for inviting me to review this one with you. You captured many aspects that highlight how relevant, and necessary, this album is—fantastic review.


Lee, i totally agree (and all the rest of the commentators: this is music that calls for urgent listening) with your review's point of view. Plus the Prevost mention. I follow, as a fan, S. Wright's music and believe that it is an entity of its own, but the time he spent at the great percussionist's workshop have shaped his openess as an improvisor//

Anonymous said...

This is a masterpiece, in my opinion. Both a rigorous, loving tribute to CT and a testament to the self expression of all involved. Pat Thomas on Side 4 is sublime.

MJG said...

This is a very good release indeed. I'm intrigued that neither this review nor the other makes mention of the 4th side of the LP set where Pat Thomas improvises around a recording of a CT interview. It seems to me an important choice by all concerned to include this in contrast and possibly to complement the trio music on the first 3 sides.