Picks and Pans Review: Live...again

updated 06/12/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/12/1995 01:00AM

Don Pullen & the African Brazilian Connection

Pianist Don Pullen's recent death at 53 from lymphoma lends an air of tragic poignancy to this lively, joyous session, recorded at the 1993 Montreux Jazz Festival. Joined by saxophonist Carlos Ward, bassist Nilson Matta, drummer J.T. Lewis and percussionist Mor Thiam, Pullen keeps a spicy blend of exotic moods and polyrhythmic grooves at a constant simmer. On the backbeat-driven "Yebino Spring" he celebrates the radiant promise of a new season with jabbing block chords and cascading tone clusters.

In the weeks before his death the Roanoke, Va., native, who was weaned on gospel and later proved equally adept at playing gutbucket blues as exploring new jazz frontiers, was at work on a forthcoming record with the Chief Cliff Singers, a drum and voice ensemble from the Salish and Kootenai tribes of Montana. To the very end, Pullen did his best to follow the life-affirming message he and the African Brazilian Connection band convey in the fiery finale to Live...Again: "Aseeko!" Translation: Get up and dance! (Blue Note)

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