Irreversible Entanglements

— ZDB at B.Leza

B.Leza - Cais da Ribeira Nova, Armazém B, Lisboa

© Piper Ferguson

I return here to the home of this incendiary North American collective, whose members have also been a regular presence in these parts in different guises. Formed by Camae Ayewa tcp Moor Mother on vocals, Tcheser Holmes on drums, Aquiles Navarro on trumpet, Keir Neuringer on saxophone and Luke Stewart on bass, this quintet invokes most purely and urgently the communal and protesting spirit of 1960s fire music, a time of profound upheaval in which music and the fight for civil rights were inextricably linked. “We Insist!” already proclaimed Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite and decades and decades later the same cry still has to echo. Without any hint of revisionism.

From this spiritual and revolutionary legacy, they build a living mosaic of the black diaspora, from the poetry of Amiri Baraka to Nathaniel Mackey, from the reality of Gil-Scott Heron to the visions of Sun Ra and the Afrofuturist lineage as postulated in Kodwo Eshun’s ‘More Brilliant Than the Sun’ – whose urgent reissue has been endlessly postponed. Born out of the Musicians Against Brutality event in 2015, they were responsible for International Anthem’s growing recognition as today’s pivotal label, releasing their first three albums there and outlining a language that continues to be continually revised, updated, and projected into the future. The revolution that won’t be televised.

‘Protect Your Light’, released in 2023 by the legendary Impulse! has once again climbed the lists of the best albums of the year, in a continuous upward movement that finds the collective abandoning some of the improvised fury of previous treatises to take on a more reflective and paused side, in words and arrangements, with the studio taking on a more preponderant role, without this translating into less urgency. Rather, non-conformity = mutation. Navarro and Neuringer’s woodwind between roar and attentive contemplation, Holmes’ multi-resource drums in tandem with Stewart’s bass, capable of going from funk deconstruction to the most blissful free swing, and Ayewa’s always sharp and precious lyrics, from the desperate resignation of reality to the utopian liberation that inhabits minds. Essential. BS

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