Muhal Richard Abrams: Balladi





1-OQA+19 (Black Saint 120017)

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Muhal Richard Abrams (piano), Anthony Braxton (sopranino, flute), Henry Threadgill (alto sax, flute), Leonard Jones (bass), Steve McCall (drums).

Recorded: New York, December 1977


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Muhal Richard Abrams relocated to New York from Chicago in 1976, seeking new audiences, opportunities, and institutional supports in Manhattan's vibrant experimental music community. Everyone else on this recording had made the same move sometime during the decade, part of a seemingly mass migration. By the sound of it, they were thriving in the new environment. "Balladi" is another of Abrams's novel settings for small groups, full of mystery and wit. There's a kind of "town vs. country" premise to the piece, where pastoral flute melodies and chiming percussion bracket the street fair clamor of the middle section, with its honking horns, marching drums and vocal chatter. There's really no reconciling these conflicting moods, but perhaps that's the point. Anyway, it's an intriguing study.

Reviewer: Joe Petrucelli

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