Farouq Z. Bey – tenor, alto, soprano saxophones, flute, spoken word | Mike Carey – tenor saxophone, flute, spoken word | Mike Gilmore – vibes, marimba, cheng | Mike Johnston – bass, sho, percussion | Nick Ashton – drums, percussion | Len Bukowski – contra alto clarinet | Mike Khoury – violin
Recorded live, September/November 2002. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tim O’Brien. Cover art/design by Mike Johnston and Mark Rudolph. Cover photo by Mark Rudolph. Group photo by Don Barber. Executive producer: Mike Khoury. All music is acoustic
Tracklist: 1. Mathnawi 2. Dragons 3. Memories 4. Sherrif Sam (Sound By Law) 5. Undercurrent 6. Shadow World 7. Nohmusic – Ashirai Pattern
A diverse follow up to their 19 Moons release of 2002. The groups has added longtime Bey collaborator Mike Carey (flute/tenor saxophone) to the ensemble. Ashirai Pattern embodies a higher spiritual plane and elements of mysticism in an aural feast. Instrumentation includes vibes, marimba, voice, bass, drums, tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet, violin, and percussion.
Northwoods Improvisers collective meld the largely undefined sounds of world music with jazz stylizations. Here, multi-reedman Faruq Z. Bey of the Detroit area band Griot Galaxy resides as the featured soloist. Vibist Mike Gilmore and the percussionists’ swarming rhythms — featuring standard drums and worldly instruments — provide the generally brimful undercurrents. On the opening piece, titled “Mathnawi,” the band jumps out of the gate with a peppery ostinato groove, largely due to Mike Johnson’s well-defined acoustic basslines. Bey resides as a forceful presence throughout, evidenced by his soul-searching choruses, wrapped around a robust tenor sax tone. At times, memories of latter-day Coltrane come to mind. And while the artists do not reinvent the proverbial wheel, this effort is brimming with motivated performances consisting of swirling pulses and a distinct sense of fluency. It’s an up-tempo extravaganza that adheres to the free jazz idiom, accented by a series of abstracts and torrid flows. Moreover, Gilmore’s vibe work nicely contrasts his fellow soloists’ lofty excursions, while richly stated textures abound in concert with the group’s soulful approach to free-form inclinations. — Glenn Astarita, All Music Guide
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