Music and More review by Tim Niland

Dual Identity – Dual Identity (CF 172)
Both Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Lehman have unique conceptions of saxophone playing and improvisation that draws on linguistics, science and mathematics in addition to the more traditional blues, bop and ballads. These ideas expand the options that the group has and makes for a fresh and exciting sound. Joining them on this live recording are Liberty Ellman on guitar, Matt Brewer on bass and Damion Reid on drums. “The General” and “Foster Brothers” lead off the album and mark something of a statement of purpose with fast paced and strong saxophones twirling like a helix, developing into a new modern jazz form of DNA. “SMS” is slow and moody improvisation with a dark toned guitar solo and ominous probing bass and drums. Pinched alto swirls are added, picking up speed to form a fast improvised performance. “Post Modern Pharaohs” is one of the highlights of the album, a fast and very dexterous improvisation with saxophones bouncing and gliding, prodded on by rapid and agile drumming. Ripe altos tear at the fabric of the music in a very exciting fashion. “Extensions of Extensions of” opens with a strong and supple drum solo, before making way for accelerated improvised alto shredding over a guitar based foundation. The music builds to dueling altos, then makes way for a guitar feature, spreading fast and sharp shards of music like broken glass winking in the light. “Katchu” slows the pace down focusing on long tones of saxophone accented by cymbals. The horns probe space and time, stretching and kneading the music at will while Ellman’s guitar prods and probes the opening. “Rudreshm” starts out slow and stately and then gradually ramps up to a potent alto led performance. “1010” has a deep and elastic bass solo before the rest of the band returns speeding up to an energetic collective improvisation. “Dual Identities” finishes up the album with a coda for two saxes swirling like aerial acrobats. This was a very exciting live album that captured a dynamic band in full flight. The music covers a wide range of territory and made for compelling listening. The co-leaders have combined their unique approaches to jazz and use this to make a conceptual leap into exploring unexpected sonic territory.

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