Bill Meyer // Dusted (November 13, 2019)

Recent lauded efforts by Angel Bat Dawid and Damon Locks suggest that socially conscious spiritual jazz is sending a message that makes a lot of sense in 2019. If such music speaks to you, consider checking out the work of Horace Tapscott, and particularly this welcome archival find. He was a composer, bandleader and pianist based in Los Angeles who led the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra from the 1960s until his death in 1999. Inspired by big bands lead by Duke Ellington and Sun Ra but concerned with celebrating and uniting the community where he lived, he fashioned music that into an exposition and affirmation of pride in pan-African and African-American ways and culture. This live recording of his ten-piece band in performance with a similarly-sized choir named the Union of God Musicians and Artists Ascension puts a hard stop on his timeline; it was the last time he played piano in public, since the aggressive cancer that ultimately killed him would first limit him to conducting in last appearances. There’s nothing wrong with playing here; he, saxophonist Michael Session, and trombonist Phil Ranelin all essay impassioned solos over the Arkestra’s massed percussion. But it’s the voices, led by singer Dwight Tribble, that embody Tapscott’s communal commitment and articulate his cultural concerns.

 

 

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