Andrew Lamb | Tom Abbs | Michael Wimberly | Guillermo E. Brown | Rhapsody in Black | No Business Records

Andrew Lamb a.k.a The Black Lamb – saxophone, flute, clarinet, conch shell | Tom Abbs – bass, tuba, didjeridoo | Michael Wimberly – drums and percussion | Guillermo E. Brown – drums and percussion

Recorded live at Roulette on 14th November, 2008. Photos by Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET. Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Produced by Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov

Track list: 1. Initiation 13’38” 2. Rhapsody In Black 12’45” 3. To Love In The Rain (Portrait Of A Virtuous Woman) 13’35” 4. Song Of The Miracle Lives 14’26”

Andrew Lamb | Tom Abbs | Michael Wimberly | Guillermo E. Brown | Rhapsody in Black | no business records

It gives me great pleasure

to once again find myself in the midst of expressing my thoughts about another recording of my work. The Creator had blessed me with the opportunity to have the wonderfully creative bass, tuba, and didjeridoo performer Tom Abbs, who has been with me for slightly over a decade, together with two of the most unique, musically diverse and culturally aware percussionists today – Michael Wimberly and Guillermo E. Brown. These gentlemen are true pfrofessionals both on and off the bandstand, which is a great pleasure for me to state. The works on this recording are organic and unpretentious, laced with the type of communication that can only be obtained, and experienced by those who are truly kindred spirits.

I would like to give special thanks to my family for always providing me with their unconditional love and support, ASCAP, windsmith Bill Singer who I refer to as “The Medic”, Jim Staley & Roulette, The Maccaferri Family’s French American Reed Company makers of the MyMasterpiece reed, and of course Danas Mikailonis, who’s vision along with No Business Records has made this recording possible. To all those worldwide who continue to appreciate my work, I salute you and look forward to the sharing of many more musical moments. Peace & Blessings. — Andrew Lamb

Andrew Lamb | Tom Abbs | Michael Wimberly | Guillermo E. Brown | Rhapsody in Black | no business records

Andrew Lamb | Tom Abbs | Michael Wimberly | Guillermo E. Brown | Rhapsody in Black | no business records

Andrew Lamb | Tom Abbs | Michael Wimberly | Guillermo E. Brown | Rhapsody in Black | no business records


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4 thoughts on “Andrew Lamb | Tom Abbs | Michael Wimberly | Guillermo E. Brown | Rhapsody in Black | No Business Records

  1. The music of Rhapsody in Black has a distinctive character: it speaks of gentleness, humility, artfulness and dignified cultural embrace. Sax and flute player, Baba Andrew Lamb wastes no time in manifesting the aforementioned qualities in the opening page of the liner notes. The title of the album addresses a celebration of Black Heritage.

    The first percussion sounds heard are unavoidably spare and soft, but “initiate” (cf. the title of the first track,“Initiation”) a series of beautifully executed discrete strokes on the bass strings by Lamb’s decade long collaborator Tom Abbs. The atmosphere built is environmental, say of the jungle, bearing some kind of tribal significance, haunting yells as testimony. Lambs’ clarinet induces an unique sound aura of calling forth spiritual power that pervades the entire album.

    The bass creates strong arco and pizzicato voices within the group throughout the recording and seems just as prominent instrumentally as the reeds are. Abbs also sputters and rips short glissandos through the tuba to change up the bass colors. But Lamb sings the most intricate songs; he repeats a phrase, rarely arpeggiates and sculpts sturdy and erect melodies, most often in the same gesture on any instrument he plays whether it is the clarinet, the tenor, metal or wooden flute.

    The percussionists, Michael Wimberly and Guillermo E. Brown, are integral to the group’s musical process. Lamb describes the percussionists’ interaction: “They play together at the same time or accompany each other taking turns.” The drummers commit to holding up the rhythmic content with undying and varying persistence: with light-handedness on cymbals, snare, woodblocks or bells. The pair keeps the music tight, manages its direction and seals its reverence.

  2. In spite of a more than three decades on the New York City front line, saxophonist Andrew Lamb remains something of an unknown quantity. Over that time he has amassed only eight leadership dates, the majority on small independent labels. To that total can be added Rhapsody In Black, a live blowing session from 2008 which feels as if it could have been recorded any time since the late ’70s. Indeed, Lamb imbues his sound with the spirituality of late period John Coltrane, smoldering with a slow burning passion, bordering on the ecstatic, recalling his early AACM mentor, reed man Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre.

    The dual percussion of downtown stalwart Michael Wimberly and Guillermo E. Brown (best known from his stint with saxophonist David S. Ware) establishes an ethnic feel, an element of ritual, which together with the sporadic didgeridoo of enterprising bassist and tubaist Tom Abbs, create a seething rhythmic backdrop for Lamb’s ruminations. Using simple phrases and restated motifs, the horn man creates a solid backbone from which the improvisations sally forth, begetting a satisfying sense of structure. Abbs shares not only a long tenure with the leader, but also that same ability to impart cohesion to spontaneous playing through judicious use of reiterated patterns and riffs, though in his case frequently disrupted by forays into freer territory.

    Lamb’s strongest statements come on tenor saxophone where his muscular burnished tone enthralls, sticking largely to an incantatory middle register, only sparingly overblowing hymn like cadences. But he also deploys throaty clarinet on the opening “Initiation,” which like all the cuts, builds slowly from sparse beginnings to an impassioned crescendo, and blows airy flute with a haunted melodicism on “To Love In The Rain (Portrait Of A Virtuous Woman)” before conjuring more primeval textures by blowing conch shell later in the piece.

    Abbs combines deep powerful bass calisthenics with occasional simultaneous blurts on tuba which ratchet up the excitement levels. The twin drummers, well separated in the mix, though not identified by channel, don’t overwhelm and leave space for both each other and the bass and horns, roiling in tandem only during the standout title track and the closing “Song Of The Miracle Lives. Though undoubtedly captivating in concert, the uncomplicated building blocks mean that the set fares slightly less well on repeated listens, but nonetheless represents a valuable addition to a slender discography.

  3. It sounds as if Andrew Lamb read my review of his previous album “The Hues Of Destiny” which was nice enough, but never really meant to make a statement. And he does on this fantastic record. He plays saxophone, flute, clarinet and conch shell, Tom Abbs plays bass, tuba and didjeridoo, and with Michael Wimberly and Guillermo E. Brown playing drums and percussion.

    On “Rhapsody In Black”, Lamb make a perfect mix between indigenous African music, post-bop and free jazz, and as its title suggests, an ode to black music in its entirety. The album starts with “Initiation”, a hypnotic and slow piece with lots of open textures, yet with the same tension as on Jarrett’s “Survivors’ Suite”, with percussion and bass leading the yearning dance of the sax.

    The title track is again rhythm section driven, with Lamb’s tenor soaring in a more uptempo way, with Abbs blowing dark toned voices out of his tuba, and even if the music looses a little bit of momentum halfway, the free improvisation moves over some military sounds to a beautiful repetitive phrase, supported by Abbs’ arco playing, and the transition works perfectly.

    I am usually not a fan of flute music, but Lamb’s intro is quite compelling on the long “To Love In The Rain (Portrait Of A Virtuous Woman), including some Middle-Eastern tone flexions, over a great rhythmic base, and the conch shell sound adds a remarkable mystic depth to the piece.

    The album ends with “Song Of The Miracle Lives”, starting with expansive sax playing in the best free tradition, both lament and invocation, a fragile solo full of emotion and spirituality, with bowed cymbal sounds in the background offering great effects of space, and as the bass and the drums start adding pulse, so does the sax, with a repetitive rhythmic phrase, first bluesy, then playing for the stars and the universe, accompanied by enthusiastic shouts and rhythmic mayhem, yet it remains within boundaries, respectful, contained, subdued, never violent or antagonistic, but creative and fresh and sweeping.

    If you really want to hear soul and spirituality and human warmth, you should listen to this album. This band masters the magic of music. An album to listen to many many times.


  4. Like one his heroes, John Coltrane, saxophonist and flute player Andrew Lamb was born in North Carolina before matriculating to the competitive jazz scene in New York City. Active both as a leader and as a sideman, he takes the leadership role on this very well played progressive jazz album. Playing saxophone, flute, clarinet and conch shell, Lamb is joined by Tom Abbs on bass, tuba and didjeridoo, and Michael Wimberly and Guillermo E. Brown on drums and percussion. Opening the album with a song called “Initiation”, the music slowly gains speed like a developing incantation, gradually building around Lamb’s long tones on saxophone and the texturally meshed percussion.

    “Rhapsody in Black” is a potent with both spiritual and musical power, along with unquenchable drive. The two drummers make for a powerful rhythm machine, and when you add to them torrid gales of saxophone and rock solid bass, you have the makings of an excellent and memorable performance. Taking a different approach, “To Love In The Rain (Portrait Of A Virtuous Woman)” develops a slow and mysteriously exotic improvisation with Lamb playing flute and the drummers shifting like grains of sand on a desert dune. Gusts of wind from flute and shell play off against bowed bass and percussion in a beautiful and remarkable manner. A strong blast of unaccompanied saxophone heralds the arrival of the final track, “Song of the Miracle Lives”, with Lamb and Abbs developing a late-night vibe of pathos before the pace begins to increase and the music becomes a call to arms.

    Lamb has a deep and personal voice on the saxophone and it come through here, with a raw and yearning feel, telling a deep story amidst the rhythmic bass and drums. The music develops to an explosive climax with punctuated by literal screams of energy. The performances on this album are spontaneous yet thoughtful, filled with the type of empathy that only excellent musicians who are fully attuned to each other can bring to their craft.

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