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"Performance begins with shamanism." says Douglas R. Ewart, who formed the quartet in this concert.
"Yusef Lateef brought magic to this group." says Adam Rudolph. From Lateef's serene flute and the soft taps and tings that open Voice Prints, this music casts a spell. While there are subsequent lightning flashes and also extended passages of energy and aggression in this concert, especially by Roscoe Mitchell, the fundamental serenity is a calm yet active state of being, not at all passive — a state of sensitivity, alert awareness and responsiveness. Magic? Certainly here is a world beyond worldly beats, where spirits meet, enhance each other, and speak to us.
Voice Prints is a kind of tone poem. The music moves from the opening calm to deeper, higher, more complex feelings, even intensity, before two concluding tracks which are so very soft, quiet: the spirits are united in peace. The curves of feeling subtly change and expand as if Voice Prints is a large composition. Yet all of Voice Prints is improvised, by musicians from four corners of America creating a concert together for the first time. Are you surprised to discover Lateef joining three leading ex-Chicago free spirits? Since all four artists are musical globetrotters, their rich world of musical experiences leave them with so much to share and so many ways to complement each other — beginning with Mitchell's and Rudolph's intensity of vision and Ewart's and Lateef's spirituality. Is music such as this a kind of magic? This quartet surely reminds us of what Albert Ayler said: "Music is the healing force of the universe."
Voice Prints is dedicated to American hero John Brown, whose fights against pro-slavery terror were a major factor to the Civil War, and to the dynamic Sam Rivers, composer, energetic improviser on many instruments, and builder of creative communities.
-John Litweiler, author or Sundidos (Goodbait Books)