Positive Knowledge - "Live In New York"
(Edgetone Records 2003, EDT4018)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
Led by founders Oluyemi Thomas on bass clarinet, c-melody sax, flute, musette and percussion, and Ijeoma Thomas on spoken word and percussion, this edition of the long running Positive Knowledge includes Wilber Morris on bass and Michael Wimberly on drums. Recorded live at the 2001 Vision Festival in New York City, one of the highlights of the music is Ijeoma's vocal delivery which brings the magic and spirit of June Tyson brilliantly to life, though she also incorporates a delirious chanting style that might be more in line with Lydia Lunch or Nina Hagen. The results are captivating and pack an emotional wallop, and performed against the alternately easy going and intense music, the quartet create rising and falling levels of serenity and free-jazz delirium.
The most exciting moments are when Oluyemi is wailing on the bass clarinet or sax while Ijeoma is embroiled in a nearly possessed rant that is in perfect harmony with the soaring free-jazz style of the music. But I also thoroughly enjoyed the more spiritual moments when the focus is on Ijeoma's poetry, backed by a smokey lounge cool jazz vibe. Like Sun Ra meets the Beats. High marks also go to Morris and Wimberly's bass and drums, which are given plenty of room to stretch out and shine, especially on the last two tracks which are all instrumental. Fantastic playing from all and along with Ijeoma's vocals this album will seduce the listener into playing it over and over.
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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz