Ned Rothenberg Double Band

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This is Rothenberg's Double Band: a sextet with the leader and Thomas Chapin on alto saxophones, Kermit Driscoll and Jerome Harris on electric bass guitars, and Billy Martin on drum kit as well as Adam Rudolph on other percussion. They use funky R&B beats as a vehicle for free, creative blowing within mostly structured yet extrapolated frameworks. Rothenberg's extended, overblown harmonic technique contrasts Chapin's more tonal approach. The title track is a three-part suite: the "a" section incorporates solid mechano-funk with unison lines; then the "b" follows with saxes wailing over Serengeti percussion while electric bass plunks to a wild, untamed 7/4 beat as a bridge to "c", with Rothenberg displaying his expansive multi-phonic approach before a riveting percussion workout. Inquisitive saxes swim in a kind of Afro-funky moat for "Polly Molly." A slow, sad cha cha, however, sets up Harris (on electric guitar) loping along and passively screaming in rock fashion for "Together," while the danceable R&B pop of "Scuffle Shuffle," again with Harris on a more steaming guitar with counterpointed horns, goes one up on Ornette Coleman & Prime Time. "SuoDolo in Breakneck" is an extraordinarily fast and hard-edged piece with drums and percussion driving this point across. Again, intertwining call-and-response saxophones provide the focus, but Rothenberg attacks swooping s-curves alone, assimilating overtones close to that of a bagpipe. The quirky, odd meter of "19/13 Blue" is just that -- very much in the pocket, but in a manner tinged with highlife. Harris enters into steely terrain on electric guitar. This double band is a combination with a unique perspective and style, mixing and matching juke and jive with natural and spiritual free associations. Not for timid creative-music listeners, nor new age mavens, but those who enjoy gutsy, meat and potatoes modern music will appreciate this. Recommended.

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