4 STARS DOWN BEAT (April 2011) Personnel:
On his third album as a leader, drummer Gerald Cleaver looks inward, reflecting on the struggles and victories of his family's part in the Great Migration from Mississippi to Detrit. The leader eschews any narrative structure, period pieces, or forced symbolism, instead reveling in diverse but masterful flexibility. The scramble of moods and styles mirrors the scrappy resourcefulness and improvisational wit demanded by the jarring changes of northern migration.
Cleaver doesn't merely employ his vast family of musical collaborations, but he also brings in his father, John Cleaver, for the terse recitation on the flinty, rock-driven "to Love", while his wife, Jean Carla Rodea, delivers the abstract words behind "He Said". The centerpiece of the album is "Fence & Post (For Mom & Dad)", a five part suite that veers from chamber-like serenity to post-Sun Ra space-outs (with Craig Taborn expertly serving up Saturn-style synthesizer squiggles) to a Duke Ellington-worthy tone poem to grooves percolating into chaos to a tempo-shifting post-bop fantasia. The influence The AACM - gleaned directly from his long association with the reedist and composer Roscoe Mitchell - along with Sun Ra hangs heavy over the proceedings, but Cleaver filters them through his own gauzy sensibility, accenting dissonance with judicious silkness. The recording captures a deep ensemble effort, but there are astonishing solos from reedist Tony Malaby and Andrew Bishop, violinist Mat Maneri and Taborn. Cleaver has established his bona fides as a top jazz drummer; now it's time to recognize his skills as a conceptualist, composer and leader - Peter Margasak.
GERAL CLEAVER, drums, percussion, voice
ANDREW BISHOP, flute, soprano & tenor sax, bass clarinet
TONY MALABI, soprano & tenor sax
CRAIG TABORN, piano
DREW GRESS, bass
MAT MANERI, viola
RYAN MacSTALLER, guitar on 1 & 8
ANDY TAUB, banjo on 11
JEAN CARLA RODEA, voice on 8 & 11
JOHN CLEVERvoice on 8.
Tracks:01. To Love
02. Charles Street Sunrise
03. Fence & Post (For Mom & Dad)--Alluvia;
04. The Lights
05. Lee / Mae; Statues / UmbRa; Ruby Ritchie / Well
06. He Said--Gremmy
07. Charles Street Quotidian
08. 22 Minutes (The Wedding Song)
09. From A Life Of The Same Name.
Recorded at Scrootable Labs, on October 21, 2009.