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Ahmed Abdullah: Actual Proof

Few contemporary trumpeters have reconciled strong melodic leanings with extended experimental impulses as convincingly as Sun Ra alum Ahmed Abdullah. His playing always retains a razor-sharp focus and a keen sense of scale; even at his most explosive, Abdullah never loses sight of how his contribution fits into the performance at large. This fine quartet features an unusual frontline of trumpet and Alex Harding’s baritone saxophone, but the brawny depth of the latter provides a superb cushion for the leader’s bright-toned, tart lyricism. Taking on a wonderfully diverse program, from the Township jive of Miriam Makeba’s “Magwalandini” to the trumpeter’s own lovely ballad “Song of Tenderness,” this group-finely rounded out by bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Jimmy Weinstein-keenly investigates the avant garde’s periphery.

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