Bernard Santacruz

Latitude 44

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This is a wild little date led by bassist Bernard Santacruz. Featuring the late Denis Charles, saxophonist Frank Lower, and African percussionist Cheikh Tidane Fall, this quartet fills out their particular brand of new jazz with a wooly, percussive edge. Given that Charles and Lowe are premier free jazz improvisers and Santacruz has been known to accompany Cecil Taylor and Steve Lacy from time to time, the addition of a traditional percussionist from Africa may seem a strange and unwieldy choice. It's not. From Lowe's "Head in the Clouds," with its accented interval figures, the saxophone and bass do turnarounds on the mode and Tidiane Fall slips in between Charles and the front line to dress this piece in a coat of many rhythms. Elsewhere, on Charles Tyler's "Twing Twang Twittel," as Lowe goes after Tyler's elusive tonal figure set in to a flatted, augmented ninth (and there's no piano for guidance, Tidiane Fall and Charles play tag on the bare ends, moving it from blues to triple-time chase in one quick run. Tidiane Fall's compositions are wonderful vehicles for the band as well such as "Taxi Brousse," where Santacruz and Tidiane Fall play triple time on an accented eight figure that relegates Lowe to blowing through the bottom end of the horn in long, honking tones and Charles dancing a rhythm made from rhythm -- it's amazing. In all this is a date that is rich in texture and flush with nuance and style. Its inspirations are impeccable and its execution is nearly wondrous.

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