black hole, the phenomenon that occurs throughout the known (and unknown) universes. Then, listen to the music on this recording, the fifth from Harriet Tubman, the trio of Melvin Gibbs (electric bass), J.T. Lewis (drums), and Brandon Ross (guitars). It's a fascinating blend of funk, hard rock, r'n'b, noise, dance music, electronics, the songs hard-edged melodies propelled by the thundering bass and drums that shakes the speakers. Seven of the 10 tracks are credited to the trio plus producer/engineer/sonic shaper Scotty Harding, who takes the often-raucous material and helps to clarify and even muddy the sonic waters.
The Negro Motorist's Green Book", a compilation of articles published annually (and then sporadically) in one volume that helped to guide African Americans on vacation trips initially in 1936 for New York State travelers and, one year later, for journeys throughout the United States. This modern blues tune builds off the rock-hard drums and fundamental bass lines, how Ross's processed guitars rails, rants and roars.
"The Terror End of Beauty" is Harriet Tubman's third album since signing with Sunnyside Records. If you listen back to the band's 1998 debut recording "I Am A Man", you can hear that band's vision was fully firmed at that time. Two decades later, that vision has been been expanded while its focus has sharpened. Like the indispensable "...Green Book", Harriet Tubman (The Band) visualizes the pitfalls and dangers of the road ahead without offering panaceas but by being honest, open, and "in your face", all the while the music is in your ears and mind.
For more information about the trio, go to www.mmmusicagency.com/harriet-tubman-the-band.html.
"The Stylings of Champian" is a treat from start-to-finish, filled with strong songs and excellent musicianship. Champian Fulton is both a delightful pianist and an evocative, assured, singer, never just "going through the motions" to show off her "chops" but making each song her own. This, her 10th album, is well worth exploring and enjoying!
For more information, go to www.champian.net.
Here's her take on the Irving Berlin tune:
Programming Director of the Ottawa International Jazz Festival) that they only get together sporadically to play. When they do, the music they create is a delightful amalgam of early jazz, gospel, and blues influences played with a sweetness and dedication that is truly "soul-deep". The member's choice of material, original songs to interpretations of early jazz classics, will remind some of the classic Chicago trio Air; especially because the two "classic tunes" are Jelly Roll Morton's "Buddy Bolden's Blues" and "King Porter's Stomp", both of which appeared on the 1979 album "Air Lore."
"Fearless and Kind" (self-released) is the band's second release and the connection to Air's (Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins, and Steve McCall) classic work cannot be denied. The lack of a chordal instrument (although, like Hopkins, Herring is a melodic bassist), the active yet sensitive drummer, and the desire to show jazz is an ever-changing river of sounds are what connects them. It's such a treat to hear tunes such as "You Know A Song" and how Hennessy wraps her brash trumpet sounds around the buttery, bluesy, tones of Cancura's tenor while Herring and Barshay dance beneath them. Dance is a major component of many of the songs. "Boll Weevil" opens the proceedings - with its "second-line" drums and bouncing bass, the songs jumps forward with powerful solos from both tenor sax and trumpet. I dare you to sit still. The muted trumpet introduces the title track, a ballad that moves ever-so-slowly. Listen to how Ms. Hennessy interacts with the bass and drums during her sweet solo. Then, the tenor sax rises up "testifyin'" as the rhythm section "drags" the beat.
The quartet is not stuck "in the tradition" but expands upon the various possibilities. The raucous and highly-charged "Airport to Knowhere" barrels forward on a head of percussive steam while "Birds for Free" has a sweet Caribbean feel in its rhythmic drive yet moves in numerous directions throughout the hardy tenor solo and high-powered trumpet spot. Kudos to Mr. Barshay - his "stop on a dime" reflexes give the piece such its playful feel (with a subtle nod to the classic Atlantic Records Ornette Coleman Quartet). The sweetness of the melody on the closing track,"The River's Flow", the intelligent interactions (such fine counterpoint throughout from Herring), and the splendid musicianship fills this observer with wonder. The four musicians try listen to each other. This music is not about "showing off" but about communal creativity. The little touches on the track - the saxophone and trumpet without the rhythm section for 30 seconds, Barshay's "dancing hands" that support the bass solo - is so joyous.
I know consumers want music that fits their expectations but "Fearless and Kind" with its endless possibilities, really should opens one's ears to the delight of creative interactions. Yes, there's plenty of rhythmic fun, numerous strong solos, but Way North is a true band, a honest collaboration of like minds, whose spirit and musicianship brings this listener such bliss.
For more information, go to waynorthband.com.
Here's a cut to savor: