SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2020
Tim Niland - Jazzblogspot
Sangeeta Michael Berardi - Divine Song (New Pulse, 1979; CD re-issue, Sunjump Records, 2020)
This is a remastered CD re-issue of an album from guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi, accompanied on various tracks by an extraordinary lineup including Archie Shepp on tenor saxophone, Roswell Rudd on trombone, Mario Pavone and Eddie Gomez on bass, and Rashied Ali on drums. The opener, John Coltrane’s “Some Other Blues” has excellent blowing from Shepp’s saxophone, sounding lusty and upbeat, with Berardi’s guitar comping and fluidly soloing. Solid bass and drums provide a sound backdrop, while the trombone sneaks in to add further texture, and Rudd develops a section of his own before folding back in. “Dancing on the Crescent Moon at Dusk I” moves into a more post bop direction, with guitar, bass and drums playing medium fast, and the leader developing a commanding guitar solo. Cymbals and buoyant bass highlight a cascade of guitar notes, and a really fine trio playing all around. Sophisticated guitar and bass intertwine on Gershwin’s “Summertime” sounding mellow but intricate. They play a beautifully flowing version of the standard, with both players dialed in. The full group comes together for “The Fifth Heart String Sings” with guitar, drums, mysterious buzzing bowed bass. Shepp’s rich saxophone fills in the sound, raw saxophone and blustery trombone, with sharp threads of guitar, creating a powerful performance, a knotty improvisation stretching out, culminating in superb raw rending tenor saxophone, and a fine reed duet with trumpet. “Dreaming Coltrane” builds slowly from guitar, light percussion and bowed bass with lowering horns adding a dark atmosphere. Drums and regular bass take up the rhythm, as stark trumpet and guitar branch out, guitar solos of quality, becoming complex over splashy cymbals and stoic bass. Trombone weaves through again, providing artful foil for the wonderful guitar playing, each adding growls and trills to keep things fresh. The finale, “Dancing on the Crescent Moon at Dusk II,” features the base trio with trombone, at a medium up clip and playing tight, the guitar and trombone diverge while still swinging hard. Trombone and guitar playing off of one another in a spirited fashion, stretching out once again and trading solo spots in addition to tight interplay. This was a very good album and it is good to have it back in wide circulation. Berardi is a fine guitar player, with a strong tone and keen approach to improvisation, and he fits in well with the heady company he keeps.