35th Reunion

New York Art Quartet

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35th Reunion Review

by Steve Loewy

It may be unfair to compare this recording to the seminal album recorded on ESP almost 35 years earlier, but such comparisons are hard to resist. In truth, the group -- now with Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) assuming an expanded role and bassist Reggie Workman substituting for the late Lewis Worell -- sounds as fresh and, yes, revolutionary as it did back in the heyday of 1960s radicalism. To be sure, each member has changed, but the sounds here are surprisingly recognizable after all these years. Rudd remains unconventionally rough-toned, while Graves squeezes colors from his percussive conglomerations. Baraka crafts his poems with shocking alacrity, spewing sounds of the angry prophet in deceptively soothing salve. Some may decry the emphasis on the verbal, but you can't bemoan its power.

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