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Harriet Tubman: Araminta (Sunnyside)

Feb. 21, 2017
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Guitarist Brandon Ross leads his jazz-black rock trio Harriet Tubman with bravura and unabashed love of vivid distortion, evoking what Sonny Sharrock might be doing if still alive, but with a more poetic control of sonics. Ross howls at the moon with beautiful abandon. Guest trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith unfurls deep textures, sustaining eternally spatial and grand pronouncements. “Nina Simone” paints a songful and pain-felt portrait of the black singer-songwriter who invoked social justice with unmatched power and poignance. Here, Smith lacerates and burnishes his notes magnificently, bleeding in the glistening sunlight of truth. Drummer J.T. Lewis punches and slashes like a black man who defiantly matters. It closes gratifyingly with the almost submerged-sounding blues reverie, “Sweet Araminta,” referencing slave liberator Harriet Tubman’s birth name. 

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