Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hilliard Greene and Sonic Openings Under Pressure - an overlooked gem from last year

Having become smitten with the talents of bassist Hilliard Greene lately - particulalry on last years Matt Lavelle-led Spiritual Power as well as Akhenaten Suite by the Roy Campbell Ensemble, which came out earlier this year - I was recently browsing the web for other projects he's been involved in. Turns out he has had quite a varied career.

He played on Charles Gayle's Repent from 1992, a record I own but haven't listened to in quite a while (there are some recent videos on YouTube of him playing with Gayle also). Since then he has played on records by such creative musicians as Dave Douglas (Sanctuary), Leroy Jenkins (Leroy Jenkins Live!), and notably Little Jimmy Scott, with whom he is still the bassist of choice, as far as I know.

As the above list would suggest, Mr. Greene's approach to bass is as varied as his collaborators, equally comfortable playing smooth, long notes, as well as speedier runs, while at the same time keeping strong and clear tones. One of the biggest joys of his playing, however, is his willingness to lock into grooves and plays powerful riff-like themes.

Wich brings me to Sonic Openings Under Pressure, which in addition to Greene is comprised of Patrick Brennan on saxophones and David Pleasant on drums (who replaced Newman Taylor Baker, as far as I can tell). Last year, the group released Muhheankuntuk on Clean Feed, a record I feel recieved unfairly little notice and was underappreciated. I, for one, am with Stef at Free Jazz in thinking that it's a great piece of modern imrpovisational jazz, intense and open ended at once, with the frenetic "Hardship" as some sort of centerpiece, a groovy spoken word/punky number that wouldn't have sounded too out of place on a Minutemen record. Great song, great record.

Preview/download at eMusic.
Buy the CD from Jazz Loft or directly from Clean Feed.

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