For Those Who Cross The Seas (2023)



Recording live in 2006, For Those Who Cross the Seas finds keyboardist and composer Alon Nechushtan assembling a titanic lineup of NYC free and experimental jazz players to perform a pair of longform pieces. “Astral Voyages,” on disk 1, combines free and spiritual jazz with a dash of New Orleans rhythm. Nechushtan provides warm electric piano chords and dreamy melody over which saxophonists Daniel Carter and Sabeer Matin, flautist/trumpeter Roy Campbell, and drummer Federico Ughi run wild. Bassist William Parker acts like his usual impeccable self, shifting casually from spontaneous improv to rock-solid groove and back like it’s just another (fulfilling) day at the office. Disk 2’s “Cosmic Canticles” fields a similar blend, but emphasizes groove over power, with the late Campbell giving an especially fervent performance. Though it’s his music, Nechushtan seems perfectly happy to stay in the background providing a foundation for his colleagues to stand tall upon. For Those Who Cross the Seas, great rewards beckon. by  12 December 2023 The Big TakeOver

Look at those players Alon Nechushtan brought together for this gig! The late, great Roy Campbell; reed masters Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen; mayor of the NYC avant-jazz scene William Parker; versatile drummer Federico Ughi. Then listen: they all live up to their reputations. And then there’s Nechushtan himself, born in Tel Aviv and long a thriving presence in New York as both composer and improviser. This concert happened at a time of considerable ferment on the NYC scene, with established virtuosi meeting the next generation — often, as was the case this night, in Brooklyn and specifically Williamsburg venues, of which Zebulon was one of the greatest supporters of the improvisation scene documented so well in Cisco Bradley‘s recent book The Williamsburg Avant-Garde: Experimental Music and Sound on the Brooklyn Waterfront. Forced Exposure

On March 5, 2006, this live performance took place at the Zebulon in Brooklyn. The band are Alon Nechushtan on keyboards, the late Roy Campbell on trumpet and flute, Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen on sax and clarinet, William Parker on bass, and Federico Ughi on drums. Fans of free jazz will love this album, despite all its flaws. First, it’s a great line-up, and any opportunity to hear Roy Campbell play trumpet is a joy, including here. Second, this music is as free as the wind, with the first track, “Astral Voyages”, clocking un-interrupted at 51 minutes, and the second, “Cosmic Cantics“, at 45 minutes, equally without interruption. Third, there is no sense of hurry, nothing to reach, no place to attain, just to perform in the moment, and be part of the flow. This last one is also one of the flaws. It’s a little too non-committal in terms of sound and musical vision. It’s nice to hear, it’s fun to listen to the interaction, especially from these musicians, but things could have been a little more daring for me. The other flaw is the recording quality which is not always ideal. But that should not spoil the fun. The musicians appeal to their broad repertoire of jazz styles and sub-genres. There are totally free moments, boppish moments, passages that remind of Bitches’ Brew, especially because of the tempo and Nechustan’s electric piano, other moments of pure pentatonic blues, with Campbell also giving some excursions into middle-eastern tonalities. It’s long, it has no sense of direction, but the playing is good, and we would give a lot to hear Roy Campbell play again. So it’s fantastic that this has been made available. Stef Gijssels FreeJazzBlog  
Listen and download from Bandcamp.