Christian Brazier / Christian Brazier / Peregrinations


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Bassist Christian Brazier is much or more of a composer than he is a bandleader. His quartet here with Sunny Murray (drums), Sophie Agnel (piano), and Rassu Siddik (trumpet) certainly matches Brazier's flair for the dramatic side of the vanguard. On 11 compositions ranging over the new jazz terrain, Brazier creates a series of soundscapes where the roles get blurred and the surfaces are washed over with a dynamic that is less familiar than it should be. Brazier, for one, is not afraid of 20th century European classical music, and its figures and dynamics weigh heavily in his compositions. His reliance, like Butch Morris, on controlling the atmosphere for improvisation -- as on "The Long Route," "Dilemma," and "Portrait Africain" -- is as much MO as it is a compositional device. Brazier knows what he looks to get from the this group of players in particular, and he does, even from the freest and hardest-to-control of his bandmates, the indomitable Sunny Murray. Murray, on all of the aforementioned compositions and a couple of others, pushes the notions of tempo and time to their outer limits, dragging the soloists to the very line Brazier has written for them and once in a while across it. His own drumming careens and clashes with Brazier's mannered bassing so thoroughly, it's as if they were born to play counterpoint with one another. This is an incredible record of dialogue, argument, refutation, and often resolve that carries the new jazz firmly into the realm of classical motifs and then leaves them both panting in the dust. Recommended.

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