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Monday, November 27, 2023

Alon Nechushtan, Roy Campbell, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, William Parker, Federico Ughi – For Those Who Cross The Seas (ESP, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

On March 5, 2006, this live performance took place at the Zebulon in Brooklyn. The band are Alon Nechushtan on keyboards, the late Roy Campbell on trumpet and flute, Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen on sax and clarinet, William Parker on bass, and Federico Ughi on drums. 

Fans of free jazz will love this album, despite all its flaws. First, it's a great line-up, and any opportunity to hear Roy Campbell play trumpet is a joy, including here. Second, this music is as free as the wind, with the first track, "Astral Voyages", clocking un-interrupted at 51 minutes, and the second, "Cosmic Cantics", at 45 minutes, equally without interruption. Third, there is no sense of hurry, nothing to reach, no place to attain, just to perform in the moment, and be part of the flow. This last one is also one of the flaws. It's a little too non-committal in terms of sound and musical vision. It's nice to hear, it's fun to listen to the interaction, especially from these musicians, but things could have been a little more daring for me. The other flaw is the recording quality which is not always ideal. 

But that should not spoil the fun. The musicians appeal to their broad repertoire of jazz styles and sub-genres. There are totally free moments, boppish moments, passages that remind of Bitches' Brew, especially because of the tempo and Nechustan's electric piano, other moments of pure pentatonic blues, with Campbell also giving some excursions into middle-eastern tonalities. It's long, it has no sense of direction, but the playing is good, and we would give a lot to hear Roy Campbell play again. So it's fantastic that this has been made available. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp