ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Jorge Sylvester Ace Collective: Spirit Driven
October 2013 Jazz Inside Magazine REVIEWS
The Light of Truth’s High Noon Is Not for Tender Leaves; Obeahman;
Construction No.1; To Be With You; Remember Haiti; Cycle of Life
Waldron Mahdi Ricks, trumpet;
Kenny Grohowski, drums.
Steve Vavagiakis, mastering
| THE NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD CD REVIEW
The musical relationship between alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester
and vocalist NoraMcCarthy dates back 12 years to their first performance as the duo A Small Dream in Red (which takes its name from the 1925 masterpiece by Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky). Each is a complete and free thinking performer in their own right, but it’s hard to deny that together they have developed a particularly powerful sense of interplay. This year, Sylvester and McCarthy are back as A Small Dream in Red, with a new record called In The Language Of Dreams, which they dedicate to both Kandinsky and Ornette Coleman, as “leaders of the avant garde movement”. The 12-track, 70-minute album covers plenty of ground, including several diverse duo originals, two of Coleman’s tunes (with poetry by McCarthy) and a decidedly trippy take on“April in Paris”. The album opener, an original called “Dizzy Bird”,is a perfectly paced starting point, as Sylvester bounces nimbly through bop-tinged riffs and McCarthy pays lyrical homage to Coleman and the historical context of his innovations. Both performers are really in their element on Coleman’s “The Blessing” and “The Sphynx”, stretching out into abstract territory and channeling their spiritual perception of the alto saxophonist’s forward-thinking messages while also maintaining their own confidently probing voices.Another original worth highlighting is the unsurprisingly loosely structured “Composition VII”, an especially minimalist free improvisation in which the pair beautifully explore longer held notes and more deliberately jarring choices in tonality. McCarthy returns as a compositional collaborator and performing member of Sylvester’s Afro Caribbean Experimental (ACE) Collective, for that group’s hefty two-disc, nine-track, 87-minute album Spirit Driven.The sextet - with includes trumpeter Waldron Mahdi Ricks, pianist Pablo Vergara, electric bassist Donald Nicks and drummer Kenny Grohowski - skips ably across the spectrum between ethereal free improv and tight, funky beats while often sticking with the typically dense harmonies of Sylvester and McCarthy’s writing, as well as pursuing unexpected paths within the rhythmic terrain of Afro Caribbean traditions. Nicks and Grohowski form a particularly strong backbone on“Construction No. 2” and “Construction No. 1”, which open the first and second discs, respectively. Both tunes are refreshingly accessible from an improvisational standpoint, beginning with relatively straight ahead grooves that gradually morph and reach farther outside the changes, with spontaneous yet swinging solos and McCarthy’s strong vocal presence. Sylvester’s somber tune “Paulina’s Prayer” is a great addition, featuring sensitive ensemble playing and a moving solo by the leader, as well as some good mute work from Ricks.And the creative duo of Sylvester and McCarthy come to the forefront once more on “Remember Haiti”, a jointly written and extremely inspired tune, which begins with chaos and coalesces into a unique verbal and aural documentation of the societal troubles faced by that nation.
Brucknerhaus Linz, December 6, 2010 ******