Carl Grubbs grew up in Philadelphia, studying for a time with John Coltrane and leading the Visitors in the 1970s with his late brother Earl, who also played saxophone. He now lives in Baltimore, and the lessons he learned in his youth still exert a strong influence over his authoritative playing. Grubbs still prefers to have two saxophones on the front line, and for his third CIMP session, his foil is Salim Washington, who plays tenor, flute and oboe to Grubbs’ usual alto, soprano and, for the first time in the studio, tenor. Bassist Steve Neil and drummer Ronnie Burrage complete the lineup.
The music is often exotic, utilizing droning backgrounds for a variety of different textures and melodies, which change depending on the combination of reeds. “Neptune” evokes Sun Ra, droning hypnotically for 12 minutes while Washington’s flute and Grubbs’ tenor work their magic. “Pygmy Music” has an even more primal rhythm, but Neil’s use of African harp behind the soprano and oboe again makes for fascinating listening. “Brother Soul” offers a pensive melody and free exploration dedicated to “all the Brothers going through Hell.” It also spotlights Grubbs’ expressive, probing use of the tenor, an approach different from his work on the other horns.