The Cosmosamatics

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After Michael Marcus played on most of Sonny Simmons' albums from the 1990s, the two of them decided to put together the Cosmosamatics. The quartet's eponymous debut album was recorded in the studio on February 20, 2001, and released in October the same year. The direction is resolutely fire music. The two saxophonists are backed by the freeform rhythm section of William Parker and Jay Rosen. The five pieces are split in terms of composition credits between Simmons (two) and Marcus (three), but differences are few: Each number leaves little room for subtlety, calling instead for fierce blowing anchored by soaring head lines. Saxophone star James Carter joins the quartet for "Mingus Mangus" and "New Line Groove," leaving his usual tenor behind to play bass saxophone. The group's name takes its full meaning in "Beyond the Inner East," a piece sharing strong affinities with Sun Ra. The presence of bassoonist Karen Borca and Samir Chatterjee on tablas also explain the "cosmic universality" theme developed in the liner notes. Sadly, this track is the less successful, mainly because of Borca's obvious discomfort in a soloing role. Nevertheless, The Cosmosamatics offers some strong, challenging exchanges -- especially in "Quasar" and "Mingus Mangus" -- and contagious energy.

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