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Elliott Sharp Aggregat: Dialectrical

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Dialectrical was recorded a month before Elliott Sharp’s 65th birthday and pays homage to no fewer than four of his recently deceased musical heroes. But if you think Sharp is heading toward his dotage, or feels circumscribed by mortality, the prickly immediacy of this music—with 73-year-old drummer Barry Altschul as its fearless co-pilot—will set you straight.

Aggregat is the umpteenth ensemble Sharp has shepherded since becoming a staple of the New York City experimental music scene in the late 1970s. The group began in 2012 as a trio playing some of the most conventional jazz in Sharp’s voluminous discography, but Dialectrical, as with the second Aggregat disc from 2013, features a knotty quintet with Sharp (most renowned as a guitarist) as the lone reed alongside two brass and a piano-less rhythm section. Much of the overtly composed stuff is unison prancing, a baseline from which to stagger and drag the rhythms or engage in what Sharp calls “free-floating crosstalk.”

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