Bernie Mora and Tangent “Transformation” CD Release Sunday, May 29th 7pm @ Dominic's El Paso, TX
For those listeners who are starved for jazz of the take-no-prisoners, in-your-face angle of perspective, look no further. Just grab a copy of Bernie Mora & Tangent's explosive new CD Transformation, Bernie's second for Rhombus Records. While this may be equally inspired by rock and funk, the instrumental nature of this music – filled with exploratory solos, rambunctious horns and vehemently dexterous rhythms – also evokes the fiery spirit of Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Albert Ayler and some of Charles Mingus' most exuberant ensembles.
Centered by Mora's riveting guitar – whether steering the rhythm section with his flawless chordal drive or soloing with passionate virtuosity – Transformation is a breathtaking experience from start to finish. His solos are not in the typical jazz guitar styles inspired by Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall or even the funkmaster Grant Green. Rather they are in that relentless spirit of firebrand guitar heroes like Hendrix, Prince and "Kidd Funkadelic" Michael Hampton – a most appropriate fit for this exhilarating album.
A large share of the solo space and most of the composition heads go to the virile, expressive and urgent saxophones of Doug Webb who provides the other fist of Tangent's right-left combo. Webb also co-wrote all of the vibrant horn arrangements along with Lee Thornburg, who plays trumpet and trombone in the fierce horn section. The nine outstanding compositions were all written by Mora; two co-written with Robert Vance and Doc Anthony (Tangent's bassist and drummer respectively); and another co-composed with the legendary Brian Bromberg, who also performs as a special guest on both fretless and upright bass on that one track. Keyboard wizard Corey Allen and percussionist Charles Godfrey round out this rollicking ensemble of remarkable musicians.
With its heavy focus on adventurous funk, the tightness of the band is an absolute must. Tangent rolls with the precision of a well-oiled machine, but with an emotional core and sense of human dynamics that is totally visceral in its spirit, and a collective mindset that makes the album a true co-creation in the most synergistic sense. That sense of organic development was behind the album title as Bernie explains: "Transformation, because we seemed to evolve into another realm of creativity. It seemed more personal and more excursionary…. as we strove for flair and individuality. We like to think of it as soulful." And soulful it is, indeed.
The kickass attitude of the JBs, P-Funk, Sly and Prince are clearly within the overlying fabric, fully apparent from the dramatic opening of the first track Chump Change, a percussive, driving piece featuring wailing tenor, raw guitar and hollering horns. Those horns are in full JBs-style shout on Blue Moon Funk, a full-throttle funkfest with a vividly suspended bridge, a sprawling, fiery tenor solo and a deep-funk bass solo stoked by punctuating horns. You Betcha is wickedly syncopated, horn-driven funk that provides the launching pad for a screaming Mora solo. A terrific drum solo is enhanced by riffing horns on Reckless, a percussion-driven scorcher with blazing tenor, closing out with a blistering Mora excursion.
For Crying Out Loud takes on a different dimension with a slightly laid-back feel. Imagine Tower of Power taking a run at mariachi music, laying down the canvas for Webb's explosive tenor to be answered by a volcanic response from Mora, and you'll get an idea of what happens here. Mora shows a gentler, sensitive side (as does the entire ensemble) with Whisper, an evocative piece that features Webb's soprano sax delicacy over a buoyantly percolating rhythm section, closing with brilliant piano/soprano interplay.
The two Mora/Vance/Anthony collaborations include Psychopants, a powerhouse launched by drums and featuring a blazing free-blowing tenor solo and a rip-roaring turn by Mora. A bass-driven intro sets Take That in motion with soulfully wailing tenor over punchy horn riffs and a sparkler of a piano solo by Allen that starts in the blues-drenched territory of Bobby Timmons before morphing into Eddie Palmieri-like Afro-Cuban jubilance.
The album closes on a strikingly different sensibility with Bernie's collaboration with Bromberg, Take Me Away. Featuring Bromberg's sterling bass mastery, the lovely captivating theme deftly unfolds over subtly smoldering percussion and closes with a deliciously edgy statement by Mora's guitar. While it might seem like a dramatic shift in context, this piece is an ideal after-the-storm closing to this provocative album.
Bernie Mora and Tangent
(Rhombus Records RHO 7133)
Street Date: June 3, 2016
Bernie Mora-guitar, Doc Anthony-drums, Robert Vance-bass, Doug Webb-saxes,
Corey Allen-keyboards, Lee Thornburg-horns, Charles Godfrey-percussion
Special Guest Brian Bromberg-fretless & upright bass on "Take Me Away
6901 Montana Ave
El Paso, TX
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