Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Gary Thomas • Kold Kage


The struggle is apparent on saxophonist and composer Gary Thomas' 1991 album, The Kold Cage, reissued in 2004 as part of label auteur Stefan Winter's remastering of his JMT label titles. Thomas is a consummate tenor man and flutist. His frustration with what had become standard jazz discourse in light of the new, influential (very narrow-minded) traditionalism ushered in a decade earlier by Wynton Marsalis and cultural conservative Stanley Crouch is obvious here. Thomas employs everything from turntables to electric guitars, synthesizers, and even rap to combat the stasis, while remaining a jazz player. From his knotty forceful compositions "Threshold" and "Gate of Faces," which open the album, Thomas engages extrapolated notions of jazz harmonics and contrapuntal considerations while relying heavily on electronic keyboard textures, and electric guitars (courtesy of Kevin Eubanks and Paul Bollenback) to stretch the margin of that engagement. But on "Intellect," the tension cracks and splinters. Here Thomas' flute and saxophone are shored up by pianist Mulgrew Miller's funky modal statements while rapper Joe Wesson pops along the synth basslines and indicts everything around him in old-school Sugarhill style -- likewise on "Infernal Machine," where Michael Caine's synths paint an off-kilter basis for baseline rhythms to underscore and jump off of. Wesson's tough street rap about faltering neighborhoods, dope, and the strength of the "black mind" introduces a chillingly futuristic series of overdubbed horn lines in the gaps. And on it goes for the rest of the hour, feinting and darting before active confrontation with the myth and magic of jazz in an attempt to make it speak outside of its historical truth and into the current cultural one. It's an exhausting but compelling and rewarding listen. It messes with those classicists in a big way by sitting on their shoes while, at the same time, pulling the tradition into the current vernacular for its validation and assertion as popular music. Far from academic, this is fire-breathing music, one that forces not only confrontation but, from any open-minded music listener, a reexamination of the jazz terrain as a once, present, and future music.
Thom Jurek

1. Threshold
2. Gate Of Faces
3. Intellect
4. Infernal Machine
5. The Divide
6. Peace Of The Korridor
7. First Strike
8. Beyond The Fall Of Night
9. The Kold Kage
10. Kulture Bandits (To Be Continued)

Gary "GTX" Thomas • tenor saxophone, flute, synthesizers, and rap vocals (7,9,10)
Joe "BMW" Wesson • rap vocals (3,4,7)
Kevin Eubanks • guitar (1,3,6)
Paul Bollenback • guitar, guitar synthesizers (2,5)
Mulgrew Miller • piano (2,7)
Tim Murphy • piano, synthesizers (3,4,5,9)
Anthony Perkins • synthesizers (8,10)
Michael Caine • piano, synthesizers (1,6)
Anthony Cox • acoustic bass
Dennis Chambers • drums
Steve Moss • percussion

Produced Stefen F. Winter

Label: 1991 JMT/Polygram 849 151-2
Format: 320
Country: US
Released: 1991
Genre: Jazz
Style: Jazz Fusion

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