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Ray Anderson: Marching On

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Ray Anderson: Marching On
Photographic art is from the artist’s forthcoming website

There ought to be no doubt [at least among cognoscenti] that Ray Anderson, along with such trombone luminaries as Roswell Rudd, Albert Mangelsdorf, Roland Dahinden, George E. Lewis, Steve Swell [that come easily to mind, along with others that don’t] are the pre-eminent innovators in contemporary music for at least the past fifty years [if not more].

As far as Mr Anderson goes, instrumentalism apart, he is a fine composer with a musical genius that transcends borders, fully absorbed the inner dynamic of tradition, which is to innovate freely and without any fetters whatsoever. Moreover, Mr Anderson is blessed with a superior artistic vision, fast approaching the maturity of figures like Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, George E. Lewis [and the musicians born of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians]. Also, with Gerry Hemingway [on his own instrument, the drums] Mr Anderson could easily lead an inspirational charge into the future together with younger musicians such as flutist Claire Chase who [like the aforementioned musicians] have extended the sonic possibilities of their respective instruments and [therefore] their music beyond expectation.

Mr Anderson proves to be a peerless solo trombonist and this album, Marching On, proves that in every way. It is a breathtaking example of the absolute mastery of Mr Anderson’s technique. His inspired use of the instrument as an extension of the human voice – his own voice, as a matter of fact as he is also a fine vocalist in addition to being a great virtuoso trombonist. Put these two aspects of Mr Anderson’s genius together, add the gorgeous songfulness of these nine works on Marching On and you have such musical derring-doo that you may find yourself stopping every so often to catch your breath.

Mr Anderson has, throughout his illustrious career, championed social causes and remained deeply spiritual in his music. Albums such as Wishbone [Gramavision, 1991], with The Wishbone Suite, a marvellous extended work, and Every One of Us [Gramavision, 1992], on which he interpreted two iconic songs, Brother Can You Spare Me A Dime? and John Coltrane’s Dear Lord are fine examples of his worldview. The trombonist is also reverently aware of his place in the historical musical continuum. His alignment not only with musicians extends much further back than [such musicians as] Gerry Hemingway, Marty Erlich, Roswell Rudd, John Coltrane, Charlie Haden and others, but to the great masters of New Orleans, to the trombonists of the great marching bands in fact.

From that past, the trombonist makes his leap into the future with the repertoire of Marching On. This repertoire is a selection of some fine originals and familiar tunes. This nude sound of the solo recording is voluptuous and evocative of the kind that suggests a certain sense of arch Romanticism. Just Squeeze Me, Equinox and Moon River [an elegiac tribute to his wife] he captures particularly beautifully, displaying a power and clarity of phrasing and articulation that out-performs many – if not any – modern player of the instrument. The broken and spread chordal work which appears to be at the heart of Mr Anderson’s originals [cue Early Morning in the Andersonorius Jungle and the kinetic energy in the tempi of The Sisyphus Effect] throw the melodic and harmonic intent of Mr Anderson’s work in high relief.

Elsewhere – on Roswell Rudd’s Keep Your Heart Right and Duke Ellington’s Just Squeeze Me – show how Mr Anderson’s care for dynamics and tightly coiled rhythms. Everywhere through these works there is energetic momentum and a fine sense that an astute voice is poking and probing the songful character of the music. The song Marching On is the apogee of the recording, rightfully so for its outstanding steady gravitas angular bite and forward thrust played with powerful aspirated blowing with which Mr Anderson evokes the day that John Lewis was struck on the head as he marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Dr Martin Luther King in 1964.

Throughout this remarkable album Ray Anderson displays matchless compositional facility which is the bedrock of the freedom [in performance], in which the fluidity of linear melodic beauty, vertical harmonic gracefulness and rhythmic balance and ingenuity mark the works contained in this recording.

Deo gratis…

Music – 1: Keep Your Heart Right; 2: Marching On; 3: Just Squeeze Me; 4: Early Morning in the Andersonorius Jungle; 5: Equinox; 6: You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me; 7: Choppers; 8: The Sisyphus Effect; 9: Moon River.

Musician – Ray Anderson: trombone.

Released – 2023
Label – Double Moon [DMCHR71416]
Runtime – 37:53

 

 

 

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