Works: Signs and Intimations of Immortality
“The music on this album is an expression reflecting the belief that from time to time we are called upon, like a snake, to shed the skins which embody our past achievements and failures….The ancients saw the shedding of the skin by the snake as symbolic of immortality” said Ed Schuller, explaining the title of his latest work, Snake Dancing.
Schuller’s albums convinced up until now by their ever distinctive, rhythmic-melodic compositions, with brilliant improvising by the musicians in an ambience of parenthetical power. The Force is rightly considered a further development from its predecessor Mu-Point. With its spectrum of sound colours it achieves new summits. In old maestro Paul Motian’s place, the towering young Jim Black hits the limelight… If Motian’s drumming was quite obviously an experience in itself, Jim Black’s - in another, more bizarre fashion - is simply breathtaking.”Black seems to spill over from his sheer abundance of ideas…” the Dresdner Neuesten Nachrichten reports.
Therefore it’s no surprise that on this present album, it’s another child prodigy on the drums, Ronnie Burrage himself. His high precision drumming is almost like a Swiss watch, people marvel at his virtuosity, his versatility interlocks with that of Ed Schuller’s in congenial fashion.
To extemporise on and embroider his complex bass riffs, Schuller brings together old comrades; ex-Defunkt electric lead guitarist Bill Bickford, as also Gary Valente, are part of his workin’ group. Valente’s archetypal, original trombone playing, he never-the-less continually masterminds. Both pick up congenially on Schuller’s ideas. New to the band is Mack Goldsbury, who takes the place of Dewey Redman with ease and sovereignty.
And so they don’t just play crisp, free, funky pieces with an emphatic groove, but also intricate ballads and mini Jazz-Suites, reminiscent of Schuller’s family tradition and his debut album The Eleventh Hour. Archaic and sophisticated at once, this music is distinguished by the friction of sound colours, variegated rhythms and their startling dynamics…magic moments like the unexpected shimmer of a snake’s skin in the tropical sun as it dances from rock to crevice…
That it’s the bass player who’s band leader and chief composer, and charters directions here is palpable at all times. The album bears the signature of Ed Schuller.