Oliver Lake / Oliver Lake Steel Quartet

Kinda' Up

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Lake presents his Steel Quartet with partner Lyndon Achee on the pan drums; the sound of his alto saxophone meshes and congeals in interesting ways. The harmonic overtones of both instruments offer a different kind of sonic stance that delivers constant conflict and resolution. Lake's signature salty, tart alto is present and accounted for throughout, with occasional outbursts into the upper stratosphere. Electric bass guitarist Reggie Washington and drummer Pheeroan AkLaff lay out a mostly rhythm and blues backdrop. You'd think that this band would naturally get into Caribbean modes, and they come into that realm with the happy calypso, "Yes You Broke." with a cage-rattling steel pan solo. A kinetic melody settles into samba on the title cut, with AkLaff bashing, flamming, and playing the melody line on his solo. The drummer is an expert rhythm navigator, whether playing a straight march beat under two static themes plyed by Lake and Achee on "Cloth," or eschewing direct funk in a more implied style over the jaunty, jumpin' unison melody of the Sonny Simmons piece, "Land of the Freaks." The best swinger of the date is "Le Sport Suite" where sections of melody in eight and six, or 7/4 time coalesce. There's a steady, funky take on the Charles Mingus evergreen "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," while a special arrangement of John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" starts typically meditational, then goes into a heavily funkified, stretched ostinato bridge as a springboard for jamming, and Lake's solo signifies mightily. Yeah! There's also a black bottom funk on the shorty "Socket," while "Brooke Rap" has a solid funk base, sharp stacatto melody, and "what if?" rap, proffering "what if you were happy every day?" and had everything you wanted or needed. Fans of Lake will like this recording, and the unique approach may turn new folks on to his music.

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