VARIOUS: ‘Celestial Blues’ (BGP)

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Subtitled ‘Cosmic, Political and Spiritual Jazz 1970 to 1974,’ this excellent new assemblage by longtime Ace and BGP compiler, Dean Rudland, aims to capitalize on the huge public interest in the music of Kamasi Washington, tracing the roots and DNA of the saxophonist’s sound and style. We don’t know, of course, if Washington and his label mate son the Brainfeeder label are familiar with the music here but there’s certainly a shared aesthetic and philosophical affinity that’s apparent when you listen to loose-limbed modal grooves like the brilliant ‘Fire’ by Joe Henderson and Alice Coltrane or Azar Lawrence’s more intense ‘Warriors Of Peace.’ This, then, is Kamasi Washington’s musical lineage and to make his point, Rudland draws upon cult tracks from the archives of small indie jazz labels like Milestone, Prestige, Muse and Flying Dutchman. Other highlights include drummer Joe Chambers’ propulsive percussion-driven ‘The Alomoravid,’ ¬†pianist Hampton Hawes’ hypnotic jazz-funk workout, ‘Josie Black,’ and saxophonist Carlos Garnett’s uplifting jam, ‘Let Us Go (To Higher Heights).’ Deep cuts by Gary Bartz’s Ntu Troop, Charles Earland, Roy Brooks and Oliver Nelson complete what is a fascinating retrospective whose style and content chimes with the 21st century spiritual jazz renaissance led by Kamasi Washington.

(CW) 4/5