Spaceways Incorporated / Zu


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The helpful folks at Atavistic suggest the term "bronto-bassism" to describe the music of this ad hoc collective, which includes members of the Italian free jazz trio Zu and Chicago noisemakers Spaceways Inc. It's as good a designation as any, especially on the vaguely funky, ponderous-yet-agile opening tracks, which are provided by Zu in collaboration with Spaceways Inc.'s reedman, Ken Vandermark. These tunes sound free, but probably aren't; drummer Jacopo Battaglia and bassist Massimo Pupillo are locked in too tightly for this to be improv, and it's a good thing, too, given the snarling flights of fancy in which Vandermark and baritone saxophonist Luca Mai indulge. Things get even better on the second half of the program, when Spaceways Inc. takes over with four deconstructions of compositions by Parliament, Sun Ra, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Parliament's "Trash A-Go-Go" gets a tribal-minimalist treatment that leaves it virtually unrecognizable until the surprisingly disciplined horns come in, and "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" is handled with similar loving violence. The group's rendition of the Art Ensemble's "Theme de Yoyo" is a bit more straightforward (whatever that word means in the context of an Art Ensemble tune), and they give Sun Ra's "We Travel the Spaceways" and "Space Is the Place" a suitably abstract and affectionately skronky treatment. Though it wouldn't be exactly accurate to call this music easily approachable, and not even consistently attractive, there's a deep sweetness and generosity of spirit in evidence here that makes the whole proceedings unusually satisfying. Recommended.

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