It's tough to get a read on rapper, actor and slam poet Saul Williams. He seems to have a great deal of faith in the average person, but he's not interested in catering to anyone's tastes. His work is at once purely self-assured and fragile. Williams’ poetic verse quietly but forcefully makes the case for change while the riotous sounds behind him demand it.
Calling Ethel a string quartet is like calling Jimi Hendrix a blues guitarist. It’s perfectly accurate and almost completely misleading.
Kiss spring's perennial blush of coy colors and prim construction goodbye. For the next three months, autumnal layering and earth tones will ram headlong into the nubile silhouettes of summer. The new vernal look is literate, lithe and flecked with mud.
From the CD’s opening seconds, the ethereal touch, musicality and instinctual rhythmic excitement of Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba captivate the ears, heart and brain. Sidemen Yosvany Terry (saxes), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet, flügelhorn) and Albuquerque’s Matt Brewer (bass), who sometimes seems to share a brain with Marcus Gilmore (drums), collaborate with stunning precision. Original compositions from Rubalcaba, Terry and Brewer, whose indirect, disturbingly beautiful “Aspiring to Normalcy,” is a high point, join Horace Silver’s “Peace” (trio) and Alejandro Garcia Caturla’s “Preludio Corto No. 2 for Piano,” arranged for quintet by Rubalcaba. Avatar delivers lyrical contemporary jazz played at a very high level. (MM)