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October 2000

Larry Coryell/ Tom Coster/ Steve Smith
Cause and Effect

Saxophonist Abraham Burton's decision to elevate his long-time drumming partner Eric McPherson to co-leader on Cause and Effect is no empty gesture; the album's spirituality-soaked sound attains its buoyancy and gravity through the group's striking rhythmic fluency. Rounded out by the superb young pianist James Hurt and bassist Yosuke Inoue, the quartet frequently thrives on infectious, hypnotic and shape-shifting vamps; the players take dazzling flight as they are propelled by and lost in the rhythms. There's always been a strong dose of Coltrane in Burton's passionate playing, and now that the one-time Jackie McLean disciple switched from alto to tenor that presence is more profound.
Yet there's more to that comparison than the reedist's big, blustery soul-streaked sound; the whole group approaches the intuitive strength of 'Trane's great '60s quartet. Straight out of the gate, on Hurt's terrific "Nebulai," the group ditches post-bop orthodoxy, ripping through the tunes with an organic spontaneity and rigorous group interplay. The quartet consistently explores vital organizational gambits, whether it's the way Hurt unleashes a thrilling barrage of ascending chord clusters on the opener, masterfully cutting against McPherson and Inoue's bubbling rhythms, or how the epic title track builds up to a fever pitch through a trance-inducing 6/8 vamp, only to resolve the tension with an exciting, fast-paced hard-bop exposition.
Bonus points for Burton's "Punta Melody," which expertly employs the calypso-like Punta rhythm of the Garifuna people, an Afro-Caribbean race who live in the islands off Belize.

Originally published in October 2000
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