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Lafayette Gilchrist: Towards the Shining Path

Lafayette Gilchrist continues mapping out his own idiosyncratic path on Towards the Shining Path, a worthy follow-up to his debut, The Music According To Lafayette Gilchrist. On that record, his music was hardly hospitable, projecting an ominous quality marked by lurking bass lines and dense dissonant harmonies. But on this one, Gilchrist lets up on the disconsolate demeanor a bit with tunes such as “Unsolved, Unresolved,” on which he builds a slinky improvisation from a funky riff atop a fractured groove. “New Jack” bounces to a happy beat with Gilchrist pounding out a jump-blues improv, brimming with rolling melodies and thick harmonies, while the title track amounts to a swift knuckle-buster with Gilchrist tickling out zigzagging phrases against a pulverizing beat.

Still, there’s a menacing quality to those cuts, and it’s not just due to Gilchrist’s Gothic pianism. Oftentimes, the four-piece horn foil increases the hairy tension with its braying melodies that sound as if they were lifted out of the songbooks of Henry Threadgill or Ed Wilkerson. As the title suggests, Gilchrist asserts himself as a new bright light with a fondness for subversive whimsy. Nevertheless his music is far from lighthearted.

Originally Published