Chris Potter on saxophone, Lionel Loueke on guitar, Dave Holland on bass, Eric Harland on drums … go ahead, call Aziza a supergroup. That would be a very ’70s thing to do, and this, at least on some levels, is very ’70s music. In its energy, its complexity and its adventurousness, it brings to mind several other supergroups that coalesced in the wake of Miles Davis’ electric transition: the Tony Williams Lifetime, Weather Report, Return to Forever and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
The thrilling “Blue Sufi,” written by Potter, is a perfect case in point. A series of dizzying unison riffs with a pronounced Indo-Arabic flavor, played in alternating measures of 7/8 and 6/8, leads to a long, furious improvisation section in which the musicians, while clearly still conscious of time, seem to be floating above it. In his solo, Loueke makes expert use of wah-wah and a setting on his Whammy pedal that gives the impression he’s being doubled by a Hammond organ. Basically, he’s doing John McLaughlin and Larry Young at the same time.