Hugh Ragin: Revelation (2004)
With his virtuosic quartet in a session of his own compositions, trumpeter Hugh Ragin retains the tradition of jazz history while forging ahead in an avant-garde direction. The quartet lays down a heavy, walking bass foundation and a constant, surrounding, drum texture over which trumpet and tenor saxophone explore. Ragin's trumpet tone employs an edge that keeps his audience off- kilter throughout. Similarly, Assif Tsahar's saxophone cries come spontaneously, and hold a dramatic spirit to the music. Together, the four artists create dissonance and unleash their powerful energy freely.
Harmony can be constructed in such a way that it will give music a sharp edge. Here, Ragin takes this principle one step farther. He and Tsahar have honed the tone quality of their respective instruments so that even one lone sustained note will exhibit this quality. It's not the lush, pretty tone quality that we've associated with dreamy ballads and classic themes. Ragin and Tsahar deliver a rawboned tone quality that maintains its acuteness throughout this creative session.
Impressions abound. "The Battlefield" emulates a bugler's charge, with war-torn agony affecting the quartet's collaboration. They've captured the outdoor scenes and sounds completely. Shrieks and squeals accompany this one, as well as "Speak to the Mountain," which provides a warning of risk. "Skull Hill," a dirge, adds woeful cries of pain and agony. Both "Night Life" and "Kamal's Gift" give the impression of a free-flowing nightclub scene, combining mainstream jazz with this quartet's highly creative spirit.
Track Listing: Restoration Intensive; Kamal's Gift; Revelation; The Battlefield; Skull Hill; Night Life; Wormwood; Speak to the Mountain; Next Time.
Personnel: Hugh Ragin- trumpet, piccolo trumpet, pocket trumpet; Assif Tsahar- tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, musette; William Parker- bass, musette, pocket trumpet; Hamid Drake- drums, percussion.