Frequency Frequency

Thrill Jockey has definitely stepped up its efforts to bridge the North side/South side musical/cultural divide that has existed in Chicago for decades. Ed Wilkerson, Nicole Mitchell, Avreeayl Ra and Harrison Bankhead come together as a super-group of AACM musicians with decades of professional experience between them. This record features unusual instrumentation — all four play flute, for instance. The frontline of Mitchell and Wilkerson are very experienced at coming up with sophisticated voicings in their music. Starting off with the lurching groove of "Pitiful James,” the melody stated by flute and clarinet. Before long, freedom erupts and Wilkerson goes for it with abandon with a liquid and abstract clarinet solo. Mitchell also gets her licks in: she’s a helluva free player, but doesn’t express herself as much in this fashion in her own tightly structured compositions. Most of the compositions oscillate between textural and grooving sections. The grooves that do transpire are given the odd but soulful touch of Ra’s drum kit, never laying down funky precision, but rather dancing around a rhythmic pattern. Bankhead mostly stays out of the way with hard swinging but otherwise bass playing. Nevertheless, tracks like "Optimystic” and the second half of "Satya” allow everyone to break out a new bag of instruments and renew their lines of communication. There is a definite spiritual vibe to these songs with bells and kalimba in evidence, this sound has gained more traction lately, and the Frequency crew do it with soul. (Thrill Jockey)