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Looking ahead to Mayan Space Station: William Parker 'Tabasco', Aum Fidelity ****

Call yourself a jazz fan and don't like ''avant''? But first up and unpick that: what a jazz fan actually is might be more abstract than you think (after all ''genre'' is more difficult to buy into and unravel than being mad-for-it over an artist …

Published: 16 Jul 2021. Updated: 7 days.

Call yourself a jazz fan and don't like ''avant''? But first up and unpick that: what a jazz fan actually is might be more abstract than you think (after all ''genre'' is more difficult to buy into and unravel than being mad-for-it over an artist or a record); secondly, ''avant'' is a wide target and can span anything from the innovations of Cecil Taylor to the latest sounds of Angel Bat Dawid.

A Rorschach test to interpret reactions to 'Tabasco' to my knowledge does not exist. It would be fascinating to know the results of such an experiment. In lieu of that research path the instrumental lands at the feet of the electric blues end of the genre spectrum (and as ''free'' goes has very defined lines enough to make you feel it isn't ''free'' at all) with guitarist Ava Mendoza blazing a ferocious path, the actual avant lines coming from bassist William Parker interrogating the ostinato and the way he wrangles this riff through shifting accents and the elasticity of metre (although not that much initially even when the tectonic plates of the piece begin to shift and they do) and drummer Gerald Cleaver keeping time in a fairly straight manner however engrossingly throughout.

Things do change and that is the interesting thing all three players facilitate. Firstly: Mendoza starts to slow down and commences on fracturing her phrases. Secondly, Cleaver begins to pound. Thirdly, Parker tumbles through and somehow the three enter a huge space and then the real heart of the character of the improvisation begins beyond all the piled-up riffage debris from around 3 and three-quarter minutes in.

Drawn from Mayan Space Station out next week so much for ''avant'' terminology, eh? This couldn't be further from what anyone might sanely expect given some knowledge of Parker's playing. But that is the nature of such loose terms. The moral should it exist is that these genre pronouncements aren't that useful beyond shorthand and yet they are all around and are barriers that need dismantling however well we think we know what the sound approximates to because rely on them too much and we miss out on gems just like this particularly if not too fussed on avant. What it is here is a blues connotation that sizzles and soars in a universe ruled by James Blood Ulmer or Sonny Sharrock! But it is a new day after all and no one is resting on their laurels here or playing the past just because. SG

William Parker, top. Photo: Aum Fidelity/Bandcamp

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Saxophonist Sam Reed who played with Teddy Pendergrass and Dusty Springfield has died

Philadelphia saxophonist Sam Reed has died at the age of 85, the saxist's death confirmed by his daughter Tamika. Reed performed as recently as earlier in July. Reed's career went back decades and he played on the doo-wop hit 'Get A Job' with The …

Published: 15 Jul 2021. Updated: 7 days.

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Philadelphia saxophonist Sam Reed has died at the age of 85, the saxist's death confirmed by his daughter Tamika.

Reed performed as recently as earlier in July. Reed's career went back decades and he played on the doo-wop hit 'Get A Job' with The Silhouettes and in the 1960s was known especially for his work at the Uptown theatre supporting big acts such as Martha and the Vandellas and Jackie Wilson.

Reed appeared on A Brand New Me by Dusty Springfield, It's Time for Love by Teddy Pendergrass and in the last decade Ready for Reed with Roberto Magris. The Philadelphia Inquirer report that a Jam for Sam tribute will be held next week.