Cooper Moore / Assif Tsahar

America

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This duet album between multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and reed boss Assif Tsahar is just the kind of political and cultural statement that we need in this dark age at the nadir of 2003. But it was needed in 1969, and it's easy to predict that it will be just as necessary in 2010. While the title track is a manifesto of chanted and scatted funky blues and hip hop, with lyrical and wailing sax improv that suggests gospel shouting, the rest are scenes from the panorama of the country and the lives of its people. From the proceeding "Back Porch Chill," with its soulful country guitar work by Moore and Tsahar's Strolling bass clarinet, it's a road trip through the yards and backstreets of the continent. There's the shamanistic loneliness of the deserts in the mouth bow and clarinet dovetails of "Tuscarora's Cry," and the outside urban boundaries in the drums and tenor sax legato exploration of "12th Avenue Messengers." "But it goes on, as in the wonderfully pastoral "Lament for the Trees" -- which would have been written by Stephen Foster if he had been a jazz player -- and appears in two different configurations here. The mutant gospel blues of "Beyond the Years" is a trip to a home we seldom notice with all its strolling grace and lilting guitar and clarinet lines. The set finishes on the thoroughly postmodern "Wounded Knee," a knotty composition/improvisation that offers tonal and dynamic explorations of constricted space and restraint. America is an essential work, one that offers not only the diversity of the landscape on the continent, but also its conflicting purposes and ideas all expressed in the universal sphere of music. Now this is discourse.

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