Monday, April 27, 2015

Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell, The Celestial Squid

The pairing of celebrated outside guitar vet Ray Russell and well-known string avantist Henry Kaiser turns out to be a terrific idea that bears considerable fruit on their recent album The Celestial Squid (Rune 403).

It is a fully fleshed-out session designed to be a logical extension of Russell's acclaimed June 11 1971, that is, an album that has compositional impact as well as a good helping of out pyrotechnics. It is Kaiser's first album where he shares the lead duties and the kinetic energy of the dual combustion reaps considerable dividends.

The band is a well-chosen one. Steve Adams, Joshua Allen, Phillip Greenlief and Aram Shelton form a four-horn saxophone section, Michael Manring is on electric bass, Damon Smith on contrabass, and Weasel Walter and William Winant supply dual drumming clout.

Steve Adams, Ray Russell, Henry Kaiser, Weasel Walter and Joshua Allen all contribute compositions that give shape to the freewheeling outsideness that catapults Kaiser and Russell into some of their very best work while also giving the entire band opportunities for their collective and individual personalities to shine.

This is neither a one-off casual meeting nor a formulaic exercise. It is a nicely turned, energetic total art offering. There is plenty of Kaiser and Russell to appreciate but there is also a real group effort here. It is pretty fantastic music and I recommend you hear it. May Henry and Ray do another!

In the meantime, get this! It's very good!

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