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Burnt Sugar: Black Sex Yall Liberation and Bloody Random Violets

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Jazz meets rhythm ‘n’ blues balladry, fierce punk and psychedelia, heavy metal, free jazz, ambient noise dirges, poetry, performance art and social commentary on Burnt Sugar’s Black Sex Yall. Critic, essayist and guitarist Greg Tate formed the loose collective five years ago as a midnight jamming vehicle between friends. The group has since become an international touring ensemble with six releases. This kaleidoscopic two-CD set is easily their most ambitious to date, combining aspects as wide-ranging as Sun Ra’s Arkestra, electric Miles (circa Agharta and Pangaea), Amiri Baraka and the New York Art Quartet, Slayer, Jimi Hendrix, Fela, P-Funk, Stevie Wonder, Prince and maybe even a touch of the Residents and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Some of the most intriguing moments in this live-sounding studio recording are hard-hitting covers of Miles’ “Mtume” (from Get Up With It) and the Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln suite “Driva Man/Freedom Day,” which incorporates Marque Gilmore’s drum ‘n’ bass programs and Vernon Reid’s electric guitar into the fabric of its bluesy foundation. Tate’s beautiful and mysterious ballad “Mermaids Angels and Rainbows” has a Prince-meets-Hendrix quality to it while “Random Violets” is a trippy pastiche a la the Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9” and features piano snippets from Butch Morris. Tate’s “Moonchile” is a grungy trance groove with some nasty guitar licks layered on top. Some of the other fine musicians heard throughout this sprawling project include keyboardist Vijay Iyer, electric bassist Jared Michael Nickerson, violinist Mazz Swift, trumpeter Lewis Flip Barnes, saxophonists Petre Radu-Scafaru and Micah Gaugh, guitarists Morgan Craft and Kirk Douglass and vocalist Justice Dilla-X.

A large portion of disc two is devoted to Tate’s experimental 30-minute suite “No Direction Home, re: Muhammad & Malvo,” in which he tries to deal in sound with the psyches of the two snipers who unleashed a reign of terror on the Washington, D.C., region during the fall of 2002. Few conceptualists-composers are even thinking along such provocative lines today. Fewer still ever bring their visions to fruition in the fully realized form that Tate has achieved here.