The adept drummer/percussionist Francisco Mora Catlett has provided some focused Latin jazz on previous recordings, but on this one, even more of his influences rise to the surface. Detroit techno pioneer Carl Craig and keyboardist Craig Taborn endow the new sound that harkens back to Catlett's previous days with Sun Ra, while Marshall Allen's ever present alto sax and flute center and solidify that connection. 2000s Detroit trumpeters John Douglass and Dwight Adams harken back to his mainstream jazz days in the Motor City, while frequent rhythmic change-ups and sliders reflect his love of his mentors, the late drummers Max Roach and Roy Brooks. This CD is a tribute to all of Catlett's heroes, with many of the selections showing a less-than-one-minute prelude improvised snippet leading into the actual composition. These short pieces, "Space Chord I-V" range from whirring madness from the band, to low level percussion solo, trumpet solo, free-k-out, and squawky alto sax. They provide one wild roller coaster ride even for the challenged listener. Of the stand-alone tracks, "Alaro Ayaba Mio" is a beautiful tribal late-night vehicle for trumpet and Marshall Allen's flute, starting in 6/8 and speeding up into a long free coda, while "Chenche Kururu" is a delicate danzon with trumpet, Allen's alto and Taborn's organ fronting a Ra-like take similar to "Motherless Child." "Suny," for Sun Ra proper, is a minimalist space walk replete with clarion echoes, layered counterpoint and Taborn mastering Ra's superhuman resonance. "Pa' Los Mayores" pays tribute to all the great conga players of time with singing horns dancing with heavy urban beats, "Voodoo" sidles the Miles Davis Bitches Brew theorem with rock and Latin vamps in 4/4 and 6/8, and "Saints of Congo Square" paraphrases "When the Saints Go Marching In" with Latin 6/8 polyrhythms and Allen's vibrant alto. There's an out-and-out free jazz improv "Space Chord Progression" in different dimensions and dynamic ranges using no composition but all invention, and the bonus cut, a longer remix reprieve of "Baba Lu Aye" is all dancehall, contrasting the light funk of the original, much deeper and heavier. This intriguing recording reveals more upon repeated listenings, and reminds us the melting pot of music is far from dry. Catlett's imagination, his choice of excellent musicians, and their collective unique voice is proof positive.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos