Tim Niland // Jazz and Blues Blog (8 août 2020)

Pianist and composer Horace Tapscott led the Pan African Peoples Arkestra in Los Angeles for nearly thirty years, unjustly flying under the radar of the jazz establishment. This album details the first studio recordings of the band and they sound vibrant and fresh at a time when most large ensembles were folding their tents. The lead-off track, « Ancestral Echoes, » features solo piano and poetic recitation with the band entering after five minutes, developing a stoic Afrocentric spiritual jazz feel that has a deep rhythmic foundation. The group quickly builds speed and power, as a trumpet solo breaks out over hand percussion and heavy drumming. Light and nimble saxophone takes over with a piercing sound over volcanic rhythm. « Sketches of Drunken Mary » has a gentle and spare piano introduction and percussion, as the horns enter to add a somber texture. Saxophone and then flute break loose adding light and then color splashes to the performance, along with strongly comped piano before the band returns to the gray melancholy theme. Tapscott’s bouncy piano with waves of sound on « Jo Annette » and then deep toned saxophone saxophone digs in along side rattling hand percussion, developing rich textures, as the saxophone blows hard over an ever evolving backdrop. Dry brass adds a further dimension, embracing stabs of piano chords and hypnotic percussion as small group cells form and dissolve over the course of the track. The final track is the massive « Eternal Egypt Suite » begining with beautiful clear piano, with breathy and enchanting flute joining and developing an unaccompanied space. The full band then comes together with excellent group interplay, providing a bracing uptempo swing with swirling horns and crashing drums and percussion. Angular piano figures keep the music in motion, with horns and flute, then the saxophone takes over and spools out a lengthy and memorable feature that is urged on by potent piano chords and propulsive bass and drums, climaxing with some epic and scalding overblowing, closing the album on a truly high note. This is a wonderful set of music, shedding much needed light on one of the most overlooked ensembles of the 1970′s, and in Horace Tapscott, one of the unsung heroes of American jazz. Dark Tree does a great job with the mastering, creating a vibrant sounding recording and matching it was a wonderful booklet filled with discographical information, photographs and essays.

 

 

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