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December 1998

Various Artists
Back on 52nd Street/ Live From Soundscape
DIW

In the early '80s, the NYC loft Soundscape was a major crossroads for the various strains of music loosely called jazz. Back on 52nd Street is an interesting surface-scratching one-disc anthology that reflects the vitalilty of the times and the place.

Except for two solo pieces by alto saxophonist Marion Brown, whose pensive lyricism and firm rhythmic drive survive a poor recording, the program is made of contrasting (and adequately engineered) duo improvisations. The two pieces by drummer Ed Blackwell and reedist Dewey Redman are thoroughly engaging, brimming with effervscent rhythms, muscular tenor and edgy indigenous horns. An extended improvisation by guitarist Derek Bailey and trombonist George Lewis builds an intricate dialogue from the barest scraps of texture. Drummer Dennis Charles and conga player Huss Charles end the program with two exuberent pieces, including a work-out on "Now's the Time."

Hopefully, this isn't a one-shot deal. Additional volumes are in order.

Originally published in December 1998
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