|| Ahmed Abdullah and the Solomonic Quintet
Featuring Charles Moffett
Cat. No.: SHCD109
Ahmed Abdullah trumpet, fluegelhorn, voice
David S. Ware tenor saxophone, stritch
Masuhjaa el. guitar
Fred Hopkins bass
Charles Moffett drums
1. African Songbird (Abdullah) 7:03
2. Gypsy Lady (Moffet) 4:55
3. The Search (Abdullah) 6:48
4. Canto II (Abdullah) 4:54
5. Khaluma (Abdullah) 7:16
6. The Dance We Do (Abdullah) 7:28
7. Wishbone Suite (Moffet) 5:27
8. The Dance We Do (Take 1) (Abdullah) 8:39
Total time: 52:30
| Listen to an excerpt in
Your web browser should automatically start playing the music.
If it doesn't you probably need to download an mp3 player.
"The overwhelming impression I took from this most interesting recording
was one of mellow warmth. A fine, inspiring release."
Michael Tucker, Jazz Journal, June 1989
First impressions of Ahmed Abdullah's Solomonic Quintet: the deftly shifting rhythms
of the dance, the soulful inflection of the song, and, always, clarity and balance.
At first it was the Solomonic Quartet trumpet, tenor, bass and drums, a
drier, more brittle sound. But the essentials were there. Charles Moffett's crisply
articulated drumming, soft shoe pitter-pat circling in a ring dance inside your
head, pivoting on the earth-bow throb of Fred Hopkins' bass. Ahmed Abdullah's
trumpet, the clean bright call of shining brass echoing the proud lineage of Lee
Morgan, Clifford Brown, Fats Navarro, but singing of today. The gruffer linearity
of the tenor, played by Chico Freeman at those early gigs, then the passionate
but deliberately paced talespinning of David S. Ware. A band chanting the ancient
wisdom of African diaspora with the immediacy of today's media-saturated, computer-linked
If you hear the horns as voices, and the bass and drums as impulse and motion,
then Masujaa's electric guitar is the spark that jumps from synapse to synapse,
resonating the voices and the motive rhythms, facilitating dialogue and dance.
It's the most recent addition to a music that's been germinating awhile now, and
it has brought further clarification, a sense that each element has found its
proper place. The music of the Solomonic Quintet is still volatile, still ripe
with discovery, but there is also a sense of setting, a certain hard-won sufficiency.
The musicians and the music sing as one voice now. One voice with many stories
to tell, many points of view.
Each of these musicians has tempered his training and inclinations and God-given
talent in working situations where one is consistently called on to play at or
beyond one's peak capacity, where the impulse to transcend becomes internalized,
if not routine. Ahmed Abdullah's trumpet has been heard in big bands and small
groups led by some of the most celebrated and discerning composer-players on the
New York scene. Most recently, he has been a motivating force in The Group, a
cooperative unit that also includes Marion Brown, Sirone and Andrew Cyrille. But
he has been heard to best advantage with his own bands, which have consistently
been characterized by balance, directness, and sense of purpose; the present Solomonic
Quintet brings his gifts as a composer and improviser into even sharper focus.
David Ware, playing both tenor and stritch in this context, is a former member
of the ensembles of Andrew Cyrille, Milford Graves and Cecil Taylor. Masujaa,
notable for the breadth of his musical interest, recorded with Ahmed Abdullah
in the early 70s on a section of Douglas Records' Wildflower Series. He has recorded
more recently with Ronald Shannon Jackson's The Decoding Society, and currently
plays with his own group, X Factor. Fred Hopkins has appeared on more than 60
recordings, always bringing warmth and wit to a unique style of playing bass,
which is both percussive and richly melodic. This, delivered with an extraordinary
exactness of timing, can be heard to great advantage here on El Canto.
Charles Moffett grew to musical maturity in Fort Worth, Texas, where he played
in teenage bands alongside future giants such as Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman,
and Prince Lasha. Some years later, he helped Coleman and bassist David Izenson
redefine the most basic notions of group playing, in a trio documented most enduringly
on the two Blue Note LP's "Live at the Golden Circle," recorded in Stockholm.
Any account of his subsequent contributions would have to include the raising
of a very musical family that includes his son Charnett, now a recording artist
in his own right. Charles Moffett is the creator of a unique approach to polyrhythmic
percussion, combining dexterity, precision, and heart. Each part of the drum kit
has its own role to play in a shifting, mercurial, light-handed, sure-footed dialogue
of rhythms. At the same time, all the parts cohere, so that Moffett's drumming
speaks with brisk, sharply-defined authority.
The Solomonic Quintet manages to be more than the sum of its very considerable
parts, and that in itself is no small achievement. But the most impressive thing
about this music is the way it feels. The depth-of-field you find in the blues
is wedded to the improvisational freedoms of jazz and the plainspeaking-but-highstepping
immediacy of African and Caribbean rhythms and song forms, all without a hint
or artifice or strain. The music is sinewy, substantial, easy to listen to and
hard to forget. It satisfies on every level, and that is rare indeed.