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Prima Materia with Rashied Ali: Bells

Unquestionably one of the most vigorous litmus tests in the realm of free jazz, Albert Alyer’s apocalyptic tour-de-force, Bells erupted with all the spiritual communal fury that marked much of the 60’s New Thing scene but leveled itself strangely and completely with its whimsical yet infectious juxtapositions of calypso-laden marches and singsong folk melodies. Three decades and some odd years later after the New Thing, Prima Materia pays tribute and re-examines the fertile grounds of Alyer’s monumental Bells with this live set recorded at the Knitting Factory.

Both tenor saxophonist Louie Belogenis and altoist Allan Chase exhibit remarkable strength and control in conjuring up the iconoclastic spirits of Alyer with their manipulating with multiphonics and cathartic outbursts, but its the burning rhythm section sparked by Rashied Ali that brightens this performance. The thick layers of harmonic bedding laid by bassist Joe Gallant and pianist Greg Murphy both softens the volcanic explorations of Belogenis and Chase and insulates the frenetic energy with beautiful textures. Veteran freedom fighter Ali pushes the ceremonies with swinging drive that’s not commonly associated with him while also contributing additional color with him superb cymbal work.

While this live set doesn’t contain the same urgency as the original, Prima Materia pays a spirited, convincing, and ultimately rewarding homage to otherworldly magic of Albert Alyer.

Originally Published