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Kahil El’zabar’s Ritual Trio Featuring Pharoah Sanders: Ooh Live!

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It’s a tribute to the inspiration that fueled this performance that “Autumn Leaves,” normally the most labored outing in a Ritual Trio performance, here achieves an indelible mix of pathos, sophisticated swing and upward-arcing majesty. Nonetheless, like most AACM-derived groups, the Ritual Trio is most at home when they’re most free, a statement that could equally apply to the venerable lion Pharoah Sanders.

“In the Land of Ooh!” begins with a sonic prayer from Sanders, then slowly builds in intensity until, about halfway through, he and the others ascend into what sounds like a state of ecstatic frenzy, leaving all thought of structure (and maybe even thought itself) behind for the uncharted territory of sonic and spiritual transcendence. It’s the kind of thing that can’t be faked or planned, and it’s also the kind of moment that free-jazz aficionados live and breathe for.

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