.Release/Reissue » 2021 » David Sanford Big Band, Hugh Ragin – A Prayer For Lester Bowie (2021 24/96 FLAC)

David Sanford Big Band, Hugh Ragin – A Prayer For Lester Bowie (2021 24/96 FLAC)

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David Sanford Big Band, Hugh Ragin - A Prayer For Lester Bowie (2021 24/96 FLAC)

David Sanford Big Band, Hugh Ragin – A Prayer For Lester Bowie (2021 24/96 FLAC)

Artist: David Sanford Big Band, Hugh Ragin
Album: A Prayer For Lester Bowie
Release/Reissue: 2021
Genre: Jazz

01. Full Immersion
02. Subtraf
03. Woman in Shadows
04. popit
05. A Prayer for Lester Bowie
06. Dizzy Atmosphere
07. Soldier and the CEO
08. V-Reel

Composer and trombonist David Sanford displays his broad-minded approach to large ensemble jazz with his dynamic big band album, 2021’s A Prayer For Lester Bowie. The album finds him joined by a cadre of boundary-pushing performers including trumpeter Hugh Ragin, whose title-track composition works as the album’s central thematic piece. There are also equally engaging improvisational contributions by players like trombonist Mike Christianson, trumpeter Brad Goode, tenor saxophonist Anna Webber, alto saxophonist Ted Levine, and guitarist Dave Fabris, among others. Primarily, A Prayer For Lester Bowie is a showcase for Sanford’s boldly textural and harmonically daring composition and arranging skills, talents he first honed at the University of Colorado, then at New England Conservatory, and finally at Princeton where he earned his doctorate on a Guggenheim Fellowship. Here, he displays his exuberant style, drawing upon such wide-ranging influences as Charles Mingus, Arnold Schöenberg, Parliament-Funkadelic, and more. Its an approach that allows for both straight-ahead moments like his thrilling reworking of Dizzy Gillespie’s bop work-out “Dizzy Atmosphere,” as well as more outre pieces, including the Ragin-penned title track and the dissonant and bluesy “Substraf,” both of which conjure the sprawling cacophony of the late-trumpeter Lester Bowie’s work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He also contrasts brassy teutonic harmonies with funk bass grooves and distorted guitar riffs on “Popit” and “The Soldier and the CEO,” a sound that evokes both Miles Davis’ fusion-era Agharta album and the Afro-centric punk of band’s like Bad Brains and Living Colour. Elsewhere, he plays with dusky film noir tropes on “Woman in the Shadows” and even draws inspiration from his love of rollercoasters, crafting a funky, contrapuntal fun ride on “V-Reel.” Listening to A Prayer for Lester Bowie, it’s hard not to reflect on the trumpeter himself. A sonic innovator and avant-garde trickster, Bowie (who died from liver cancer in 1999) emerged in the ’60s and helped to expand not just the idiom of jazz, but also what sounds a trumpet can acceptably make. He always took the music, but never himself too seriously, even as he fused together free jazz with gospel, African traditions, funk, and pop music. For Sanford and Ragin, he is a creative paradigm and A Prayer for Lester Bowie isn’t just a celebration of that legacy, but a wildy charismatic expression of it.

Drums – Mark Raynes
Piano – Geoffrey Burleson
Trumpet – Hugh Ragin