Oliver Lake: Oliver Lake; Mary Redhouse (Native American flute); Gene Lake, Santi Debriano.
Personnel: Oliver Lake (spoken vocals, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Mary Redhouse (vocals, flute); Santi Debriano (acoustic bass); Gene Lake (drums).
Audio Mixer: Peter Karl.
Recording information: Knitting Factory, New York, NY (05/19/2001).
Illustrator: Oliver Lake.
It's been two years since Oliver Lake's last proper studio album, and this live set was recorded before that. This version of Oliver Lake's quartet included Native American flutist, poet, and vocalist Mary Redhouse, bassist Santi Debriano, and drummer Gene Lake. The music ranges from angular post-bop -- "Brass & Oak" -- to haunting Native American chants such as "Naisai," with aboriginal rhythms played by Gene, and spacious yet restrained free playing by the others. There are seriously angular workouts as well, such as "Yo' Dance" where Oliver blows and is responded to by the wood flute and Redhouse's gone vocalizing. "Montana Grass Song" is an authentic powwow song, completely reinvented by the band while respecting its traditional framework before making it a scattish/improv swing tune. The title track, from 2003's Cloth, is given a tough quartet reading as well. And it sizzles. Oliver's soloing here is particularly wonderful, but it's the rhythm section that keeps it all popping. Ultimately, this is a good date, but it's outside much of the jazz frame a lot of the time. It will appeal to Oliver Lake's hardcore fan base but it's the wrong recording to introduce to a novice. ~ Thom Jurek