Benito Gonzalez, Flatbush Avenue ****

Each one, teach one, reach one. The driving 'Flatbush Avenue' is a serious head-bobber and Benito Gonzalez shows considerable power in a style reminiscent of the edge and majesty of the much missed McCoy Tyner in his pomp. When 14 May, release day …

Published: 5 May 2021. Updated: 19 months.

Each one, teach one, reach one. The driving 'Flatbush Avenue' is a serious head-bobber and Benito Gonzalez shows considerable power in a style reminiscent of the edge and majesty of the much missed McCoy Tyner in his pomp. When 14 May, release day for the whole album comes along, on this evidence and it's early doors you'd be nonetheless tempted to take the whole day off and just press replay all the time to wrap your ears around what is clearly going on this daring forward rider an event release.

As flagged up back in March and to reprise Russian label Rainy Days, known for its work with Zhenya Strigalev expands upon its Russian artist base with the release next month of the Afro-Latin Sing to the World by Venezuela-born pianist/composer/bandleader Benito Gonzalez known for his work with alto icon Kenny Garrett and more recently with Pharoah Sanders.

A sprinkling of very big names are on the recording. Double bass icon Christian McBride who goes way back with Gonzalez is on the majority of the tracks and the formidable ex-Branford Marsalis classic quartet drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts is also a serious presence. Tain shares the drum duties with Russian drummer and co-producer Sasha Mashin and contributes his composition '412'. The New Orleans icon trumpeter Nicholas Payton plays on four tracks. Recorded in studios in New York and Moscow tracks also include Gonzalez originals and a version of 'Father' by Roy Hargrove. (On 'Flatbush Avenue' it's Mashin on drums and Josh Evans on trumpet along with McBride and Gonzalez.)

Finally, to avoid any fear of missing out, because you will kick yourself if you end up doing so, Gonzalez also produced and appeared on Trying Times, the fine Deelee Dubé album released a matter of months ago. Dubé's record is the classic-vocals record that we have been cherishing most in 2021. And in that preference we are surely not alone.

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Chris Abrahams, Mark Wastell, A Thousand Sacred Steps ****

Mark Wastell's Confront label always surprises. It is one of the best quality hardcore avant labels out of the UK scene. That is not necessarily the surprise: what is more so is how the drummer resolutely away from the limelight and yet in a highly …

Published: 4 May 2021. Updated: 19 months.

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Mark Wastell's Confront label always surprises. It is one of the best quality hardcore avant labels out of the UK scene. That is not necessarily the surprise: what is more so is how the drummer resolutely away from the limelight and yet in a highly respected manner among musicians manages to often appear with some significant international names who, guessing, are very hard to pin down.

This time Wastell is in duo with The Necks pianist Chris Abrahams. The Necks have massive enduring appeal spanning both hardcore free improv and contemporary classical listening communities. If you have ever seen them live it's as if entering hypnosis or mind-transported into their own very specific, unrepeatable, dimension.

Recorded in a studio on the Hackney Road in east London in 2018 A Thousand Sacred Steps is very brief, just an EP. The track names word by word amount to the overall EP title when run together. Abrahams really with all due respect is the main interest. Wastell hand on heart does not connect particularly interestingly on the first track. However, on 'Thousand' the atmosphere changes, his dungeon-like cymbalism transforms the mood and the piece becomes stark and industrial. 'Sacred' is where Abrahams' sense of the cyclical is best heard. Wastell comments rather than intersects but that is the point. On 'Steps' he changes again and becomes a follower to the lead line. A must for fans of The Necks and huge kudos for Wastell who has his own identity. Out now

Of Confront's catalogue burrowing back a bit head for Steve Beresford on Frequency Disasters.