Monday, December 21, 2015

Sonny Sharrock, Ask the Ages, with Pharoah Sanders, Elvin Jones, Charnett Moffett

If you do not know the late Sonny Sharrock's guitar playing, you need to remedy that. He was the original avant jazz guitarist, the one who started it all, pretty much.

One of his very best albums, Ask the Ages has just been remastered and reissued (MOD 0016). It is an excellent example of Sonny in his later period, recorded not that long before his untimely demise.

The first thing to note is the seminal personnel: percussion titan Elvin Jones is on drums, the master Pharoah Sanders plays tenor and soprano, and Charnett Moffett is on bass. Along with Sonny this is a fabulous outfit, truly for the ages, and they completely mesh. Not surprising. Sonny was on Pharoah's first Impulse album and all knew and appreciated each other's work. And of course Pharoah played with Elvin on some key Coltrane dates.

The quality of Sharrock's originals is another wonderful element. Every one is quite memorable, classic.

And then the soloing. It is outstanding on all fronts. Sonny had gotten a considerably bit more metallic in his playing and that comes through here along with his shredded skronk. He is in beautiful form, to say the least. And for that matter, so are Pharoah, Elvin and Charnett.

This was a date that managed to synthesize the swinging outness that Elvin favored with the electricity of Sharrock in peak mode. Pharoah sounds essential. And Charnett, too.

This is a way to start appreciating Sonny, if you don't know his work. But it is a landmark date regardless, something all who cherish modern avant jazz will need to hear and own. But for the out rockers this is equally essential.

A classic among classics!

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