Friday, June 23, 2023

Karl Evangelista's Apura, Ngayon


We travel each of us down the path of life and for those musically inclined we in part mark our lifetimes with various musics and artists so that there are soundtracks at any period that accompany our event horizons. Today I must say happily I HAVE BEEN  quite favorably struck (autobiographically?) by a new album from  electric guitarist Karl A.D. Evangelista and his group Apura.  The album is entitled Ngayon (Astral Spirits AS208).

This is open rhythm free form Avant Jazz of note from an electric guitarist who chooses his notes and sound with care and consistency, even with brilliance I would say, in an advanced harmonic-melodic mode and an intricate vision of how the music flows and takes on vibrant life. If it is helpful to have something stylistically related you might think of the classic Paul Motian Trios of Motion drums, Bill Frisell guitar and Joe Lovano tenor sax? Now that is only a rough idea of the sound and Evangelista and company hew their own path through such musical thickets. What that stylistic complex involves has to do with a musically open space filled by compositions that spill out to complex but consistently forward moving head frameworks of a New Thing sort, and in a general sense for a whole of heads and improvs of acute color and soundings of advanced notefulness. 

The band is  a very compatible quintet of top-notch improvising players.  Evangelista takes the lead on guitar, followed nicely by Francis Wong on the tenor saxophone, Rei Scampavia on piano for cuts 3, 4, Lisa Mezacappa on upright contrabass, and the very welcome guest, percussive giant Andrew Cyrille  on drums.

No notes are wasted here, with striking improvisational articulations the rule always and the whole group complex continually assertive and together. The group name Apura comes out of Tagalog word that means roughly "Very urgent," which the press notes to this album tell us has to do with  the 1968 album of that same name by Chris McGregor's celebrated South African Sextet of 50 years ago and their objective of resisting apartheid through sound. This Apura group seeks to revive the primordial energy of such a band, as also and again "the sound of vintage Free Jazz with Filipino folk song," while drawing a direct line between the political action of those important days and the search for justice and equality today.

The nicely crackling Apollonian electricity of Evangelista's guitar melds very well with Wong's frontline tenor and all-too-briefly Scampavia's piano when he participates. The Mezacappa-Cyrille bass-drums tandem makes for a potently classic and edgy whole, and sets up the entire band with remarkable poise and energy.

This is remarkable fare, one of the nicest avant outings I've heard in recent years, a real winner.

Strongly recommended. Get a bead on the album with a free stream on BandCamp and see how to order there:

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