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A rockish kind of ecstasy from Cameron Graves


Cameron Graves, "Planetary Prince" (Mack Avenue)

A new and exciting kind of jazz neo-primitivism fully takes hold with this exceptional record by composer and pianist Cameron Graves.

He is prominent in the overrated music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who returns the favor and appears here with Graves. What these guys are doing with pounding ostinatos and thundering rock drums is very different from what Coltrane once did with McCoy Tyner. Ostinati are the musical face of what they do here over Ronald Bruner Jr.'s drums which out Bad Plus Bad Plus. Hadrien Faraud's bass playing is as sweeping and florid as Graves' piano playing.

The melodies are almost as simple as they used to be with Albert Ayler but with Graves at the piano, a kind of rhapsodic fervor takes over rather than the quasi-religious dance that used to happen with Coltrane. The tremolos and arpeggios of the pianist are a kind of new way to adapt Ayler to the piano. The actual instrument Graves plays here must have taken a heck of a beating but what you're getting from this guy is a new rockish kind of ecstasy that we haven't heard before. It's the very roughness and lack of sophistication that makes it so welcome.

3 1/2 stars (out of four)


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