'Music from another zone'
You're not going to see any jokes about how this music is "out of this world" or "cosmic". I'm going to keep it straight and avoid employing the usual reviewer convention of wordplay. That would belittle the genius of this recording.
Very much in the vein of Ornette Coleman, New Orbits puts a modern face on the free jazz idiom. The Freedom principle predates Coleman's debut. Cecil Taylor had been exploring the idea since 1956. But it was Coleman's Something Else! that brought the movement aboveground, from behind the walls of the 'Five Spot' and into broader consciousness.
To highlight the difference of the Sixties Avant-Garde, albums were titled provocatively; Something Else!, Change of the Century and The Shape of Jazz to Come as if to denounce mainstream (predominantly 'Bebop') forms.
New Orbits 'Music from another zone' has been named in a similar way, and coupled with the images of the Trifid Nebula taken with the NASA Hubble Space Telescope that feature in the cover art, the impression is that this concentrated and intensely intelligent music deserves a better place ahead of the easy-listening, smooth, vocal pap that dominates the contemporary so-called jazz charts.
Present Tense is One-Worder Marco Anderson on drums and percussion, guitarist Philip Gibbs, Beni Williams on keyboards and programming and Mujician (free-improvisation quartet with Keith Tippett) saxophonist Paul Dunmall.
But, the beauty of this album is that the ensemble interplay is so tight that it's the holistic sonority that pervades. Each instrumentalist's playing is clearly brilliant, but the rich textures arising from the group interplay outshine any individual contribution.
A Tony Williams high-hat pulse rockets along the groove. Hand-in-hand, keyboard ripples and David Bailey / Sonny Sharrock grunge guitar lick along the underside of a channel deeply excavated by scalpel-sharp sinuous soprano sax.
Solo piano cuts this way and that, probing the boundaries of expression. Bagpipes rip up your expectations and spit in the face of mediocrity. On this disc, Coleman's Harmolodics is given air to breath. He told us that, "In the twenty first century, music and language will become homogenous in sound where the ethnical tongues will remain the same".
New Orbits may not be revolutionary, nor 'Music from another zone', but it allows the listener to be free, and to be free to feel. To move beyond the restrictive boundaries of conformity. And hey! That's certainly novel for music today.
A modern classic for every free-thinking jazz fanatic.