Ut Gret — Ancestors' Tale
(AltrOck Productions ALT-041, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-06-19The follow-up to 2011’s Radical Symmetry is a further refinement of Ut Gret’s unique musical vision. Ancestors’ Tale represents the crossroads of many different seemingly incongruent styles, but presented with the masterful hands of this group that seems to be able to make anything work, whether inside or outside the box. The ten tracks here cover about an hour, and brim with invention at every new turn, combining spirited rock with elements of chamber, jazz, world folk, impressionist classical, improvisation, and avant-garde, all based on exceptional compositions mostly by bassist, guitarist and de-facto bandleader Joee Conroy and keyboardist Steve Roberts either alone or together or in combination with other band members. There are vocals, but not a whole lot of them, courtesy of singer Cheyenne Mize who may remind listeners just a smidgen of Thinking Plague during her vocal parts, while at other times she is contributing on violin. But overall, this is for the most part an instrumental effort, with strong arrangements utilizing the band’s powerful woodwind section of Jackie Royce, Steve Good and Greg Acker (the latter doubling on percussion), which includes flute, basoon, contra-bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, bari sax, and even occasional didgeridoo. Roberts’ preferred keyboards include electric piano, piano, Mellotron, and occasional organ, vibes, marimba, and samples. Drummer Gary Pahler connects all the dots and provides the necessary structure, wherever that structure is needed. As one traverses these cuts, reminders of the work of other classic progressive artists may make fleeting appearances: Soft Machine and other prime era Canterbury bands, Univers Zero (with all those woodwinds, how could it not?), and the strong influence of mid-70s King Crimson is in evidence on many of the later tracks. There’s a lot of brilliance and originality herein, and it’s very hard to stop pushing that replay button, as each spin reveals something new or presents something familiar in an entirely new light.
Related artist(s): Ut Gret
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more