Lewis Jordan and Music At Large: Critical Mass
(Innova Recordings / May 27, 2022)
Composers: Lewis Jordan; Performers: Lewis Jordan, Bruce Ackley, Sandi Poindexter, Ollen Erich Hunt, Jimmy Biala, Genny Lim, Tureeda Mikell
People coming together and celebrating - that's the impetus behind Critical Mass by saxophonist/composer/performer Lewis Jordan and his artist friends. Jordan adds poetry to his expressive alto and baritone sax, accompanies by violin, soprano and tenor sax, bass and percussion.
In Axiology/Demonstration, Jordan's spoken word fits into the melodic slot above a jazzy contrapuntal mix dominated by percussive and rhythmic sax. He meditates on love, music and life. There are occasional outbreaks of sax virtuosity over a busy rhythm section.
Each track offers a fresh approach. Call and Response sounds like a nod to big band jazz, albeit with a slightly off kilter modern edge. In Ask Yourself, sombre vocals by Sandi Poindexter offer a plaintive melody against spare bass and percussion.
Jordan takes the familiar and adds a personal and contemporary touch - a flash of dissonance here, a passage of noise in the midst of melody. His nicely inventive solo in Rights and Rites is a highlight of the album.
As a poet, his message is uplifting. From Build a Bridge,
If they block the highway
We'll take the low way
We're still coming...
Whether you listen for the message or for his stylish brand of sax-driven jazz, it's an album with replay value.