David Murray And The Gwo-Ka Masters Featuring Pharoah Sanders Gwo-Tet

Damn! This is the best Defunkt album in years! It's hard not to flash back to Joe Bowie's coke-addled agit-dance workouts of the early ’80s during the 12 minutes of "Gwotet." It's a one-chord jam with serpentine horn charts and a guitarist who sounds like Vernon Reid without a distortion pedal. Sure, there's more hand drumming, which actually echoes where Defunkt is now, but the stew is much spicier. Murray has been getting to this point for years, starting with the African percussion experiments with the World Saxophone Quartet through his Afro-diasporic fusion projects. It’s taken Murray a few tries to settle his massive horn charts into equally massive grooves. He couldn't quite do it with last year's Cuban big band project Now Is Another Time, where the horn charts were too busy for the rest of the music, but the frenetic zouk and trans-Antillean sounds on this disc fit things perfectly. Pharoah Sanders bolsters the front line and makes sure that Murray isn't always the highest energy soloist here. This had been another problem with Murray's groove projects — no one else could bring the fury to match his own, but this is. Not so with Sanders, and additionally with the guitarist Christian Laviso. Another secret weapon is Hamid Drake, who locks everything together on drums. Best are the bass clarinet workout "Ouagadougou" (can anyone match him on this instrument?) and the rolling drums of "Ovwa." So when is Justin Time going to spring for a remix project? (Justin Time)