By Jon Neudorf
Sea of Tranquility
Afro-Bop Alliance Big Band,Revelation
Revelation is the sixth album for Afro Bop Alliance Big band. Three of those records were major big band affairs including their latest. This massive band is led by Joe McCarthy who provides drums and percussion. There are no less than seven trumpeters, seven trombonists, seven sax players and four steel pan virtuosos.
This is a difficult album to fault as the music is energetic, vibrant and most importantly quite memorable. The players are all stellar musicians as there are no weak links in this band. It all begins with McCarthy’s fantastic drum work as he drives these tunes with incredible skill and precision.
The first track “CuBop” features clean guitar fills and joyous steel pan solos. The sax solo is pretty good as well. Three compositions were directed by famous jazz composer Roland Vazquez. All are over ten minutes long with the first titled “No Rest for the Bones of the Dead”. A lovely tenor sax is heard before the tempo picks up into a joyous groove. Layers of horns and rhythmic changes aplenty without ever getting muddled in the mix. “Family of Four” is another epic beginning with some outstanding flugelhorn by Alex Norris and ending with Matt Stuver’s lovely tenor sax solo. The spicy Latin flavoured “Creencias” ends the album on a high just as it started with a tremendous horn arrangement and superb drumming skills from McCarthy.
There has been some fine big band releases in recent years and Revelation is as good as any of them. Could this be a measuring stick upon which all other contemporary big band releases will be measured? Perhaps…