Muhal Richard Abrams

Things to Come from Those Now Gone

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The intriguingly titled Things to Come From Those Now Gone is a hodgepodge of an album with varying combinations of musicians producing work that ranges from the weirdly bad to the astonishingly beautiful. Abrams is often at his best when he simply allows his deep melodic sense to take over and, on the opening duo with flutist Wallace McMillan as well as "Ballad for Old Souls," a trio for piano, bass, and vibes, the haunting, nostalgic effect is lovingly realized. Following a brief, delirious horn blowout is one of the oddest things Abrams ever recorded, a feature for singer Ella Jackson, who wavers off pitch so aggravatingly that it can make the listener leap for the volume control. Then again, it's possible that she's merely singing the piece the way the composer intended. If so, it's a lugubrious art song indeed. "1 and 4 Plus 2 and 7" is the kind of overly dry, academic sounding exercise that Abrams would return to often in his career. But then comes the closer, "March of the Transients." There may not be a single better example of "freebop" as practiced by members of the AACM than this amazing composition. A rip-roaring head, strutting proudly for all it's worth, is fleshed out by a string of utterly outstanding, on-the-mark solos, all impelled onward by the glorious drums of Wilbur Campbell. It's a performance that any bop master would be proud of and brought off with a sparkle and energy sorely lacking in most mid-'70s boppers. This track alone makes the album a must-buy; were the remainder of the disc as great, Things to Come From Those Now Gone would be an all-time classic.

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