Jazz Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

April 12, 2009

"Uhuru Na Umoja" - Frank Wright

Frank Wright is one of the avant-garde sax players I have only just been jumping into in the last year and a half or so, and man can he swing. Uhuru Na Umoja is a really heavy and powerful album that even though it's a baseless quartet, it assaults the listener as if it were Coleman's Free Jazz or Coltrane's Ascension. Originally part of the American Records catalog, the series is now reissued under the Verve label under the series Free America and is definitely worth diving into with other artist like Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, Paul Bley and others. The album showcases Art Taylor in rare form as he strays away from his usual bop performances. And Bobby Few lays another amazing session on the ivory keys.

The opening cut,
Oriental Moods, starts off with a subtle, melodic theme that sets the tone for the rest of the album. It is beautiful yet striking with layers and textures of piano and percussion. You can definitely here the influence Albert Ayler has had on Frank Wright and it's hard to imagine him blowing sessions with B.B. King and other blues and R&B artists earlier in his career. Aurora Borealis is the second tune which starts off with a cloud of slowly building free playing that's reminiscent of some Pharoah Sanders material from Impulse.

My favorite is the closing track,
Pluto, which starts off with a quick written part that reminds us of the chords in Oriental Moods with more variations on the notes within them and a faster tempo. It's so catchy that even my girlfriend (who can't stand free improvised jazz) over heard me listening to it and was like, 'wow I can dig this.' Within 30 seconds of the cut it further erupts into an Ayler-esq montage and far out free improvisation before it ends up back to the original compositional theme to ultimately close out the album. I could listen to it 10 times a day and never get bored of it.
1970 - America Records/Verve.
Arthur Taylor - Drums; Frank Wright - Tenor Sax ; Bobby Few - Piano; Noah Howard - Alto Sax.