Bobby Zankel

Prayer and Action

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This is a searching, hard-hitting quintet session led by alto/soprano saxophonist Bobby Zankel, also featuring trumpeter John Swana, vibist Bryan Carrott, bassist Tyrone Brown, and drummer Ralph Peterson Jr.. As with all discs put out on the CIMP (Creative Improvised Music Projects) label, the sound is as dry and pure as can be. CIMP's recordings can be too pure -- in fact, lacking color -- but here the urgency of the band's interaction is captured beautifully. Each of these six tracks is a journey involving varied, unpredictable rhythms and an opaque harmonic language that brings Andrew Hill to mind. "The Quest" and "Prayer and Action" swing hard in 4/4 but are no less adventurous than "Lotus on the Nile," with its intense, odd-metered African feel, or "Where the Earth Meets the Sky," a highly ambitious and abstract suite that transports the listener for just over 20 minutes. "The Next Time I See You," Zankel's tribute to Ana Maria Shorter (who died on TWA Flight 800), is gritty and devoid of sentimentality, and thus all the more heartwrenching. "Flash of the Spirit," based on a thorny 7/8 groove, finds Peterson in all his provocative glory and wraps up the set. (Given the presence of Peterson, Bryan Carrott, and Zankel on soprano, one could easily mistake this band for Ralph Peterson's Fo'tet.)

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