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Downtown Music Gallery review
Bruce Gallanter
FIRE OF SPACE [JORDAN McLEAN/SHOKO NAGAI/THOMAS ABBS/GEOFF MANN et al] - Handbasket (482 Music 1043; USA)
Local trumpet wiz Jordan McLean plays with Antibalas, Droid, Nublu and leads the great Fire of Space. He played here at DMG last Sunday with bassist & theremin-player Ty Bertram and knocked us out with his great post-Miles space/trumpet and subtle electronic grooves. This is the second Fire of Space disc that we know of and again, it is gem. "Rampi Rampi" opens and is the only non-original being a traditional Turkish tune. It has a joyous, Middle-Eastern klez-like melody with the horns swirling together jubilantly. "Quiet (as the Birds of Fewa)", features some great sintir-like (African) acoustic bass at the center with mysterious organ, odd horn harmonies and quietly spinning percussion. It reminds me quite a bit of the Sun Ra Arkestra circa late sixties. The title tune has a great funky groove led by the bari sax, some smokin' trumpet and more great harmonies for the horns and reeds. I hadn't heard of Martin Perna before this disc but that cat can really wail on that baritone sax! "Valleys of Jade" features some more amazing contrabass from Tom Abbs, with equally great organic drums from Geoff Mann at the center of this slow and mesmerizing tune. Shoko's eerie electric piano and Mr. Herbst's double reed are also featured and sound superb. "Children's Voices" has one slamming, Miles-like electric-funk groove and more great trumpet from Jordan. I dig the way it mutates into a great flute-led section with funky shouts and some twisted clarinet. One thing that Jordan excels at is layering different sections of his group so that the rhythm team spins one way while the horns spin in another wave with the soloist riding on top. "Prayer to the Elders" is an auspicious closing piece with some wonderful organ from Shoko and a most memorable melody from the horns. It sounds like it could be a closing theme from a great, spooky science fiction thriller of yesteryear. It is certainly great to hear this fine local ensemble blending the Sun Ra, Miles and assorted ethnic influences into something new and exciting.
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