Northwoods Improvisers Quartet/Quintet: Raft (Entropy Stereo, 2021)

February 27, 2021 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Northwoods Improvisers Quartet/Quintet: Raft

Longrunning Detroit jazz ensemble Northwoods Improvisers return with their first recording since the 2012 death of Griot Galaxy legend Faruq Z. Bey, whom they regularly collaborated with since 2000. They’ve been playing strictly acoustic instrumentation since the early 1980s, but the music is charged with enough energy that it often seems electric. Each piece has a writing credit, and many of them are composed, structured, and melodic, like “Ethiopia” (which definitely sounds inspired by the music of the country it’s named after) and the slow river float of “Raft”. “Burgundy and Green” starts out with a flurry of drumming which continues underneath the sax and flutes, which diverge from a sorrowful, weary duet into wild improvisations. “Woodfire” is an expressive audio painting which instantly transports you to a remote environment far from civilization. “R.M.” is a short, frantic, angular burst accompanied by a poem in the inner sleeve, although the audio is instrumental. “19 Moons” is a Faruq Z. Bey composition, and the mournful “Tasbih'” is dedicated to him. The busier, more sprawling “Witnessed” is for Mike Carey, another longtime group member who does not appear on this album.

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