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Zoh Amba, 'Dance of Bliss'

Tenor saxophonist and flutist Zoh Amba blends dazzling proficiency with the divine through free jazz. Taken from her latest album, O Life, O Light Vol. 2, "Dance of Bliss" is an otherworldly symphony contained within three players: Amba, William Parker on upright bass and gralla (a double-reeded Catalan woodwind) and drummer Francisco Mela. The 19-minute track is in a constant state of forming and reforming — with undeniable skills the trio deliver and discard ideas as quickly as they arise. Amba and Parker shift from simple intervallic motifs on horn and bass to extended, rapid lines. Mela might win MVP for keeping things in consistent and forward motion with his percussive commentary. Once Parker shifts from bass to gralla, the band neutralizes the preceding foundational ideas to fully lift the veil: vocal yelps are heard and then fade in the freeform flow and, near the song's end, Parker plucks out a dense ostinato bass figure as Amba emits a sad cooing, even weeping, through her horn. It's a tender and unsettling closer for "Dance of Bliss," opting for sheer emotionality and vulnerability that plays like pure honey in the rock.

Copyright 2023 WJCT News 89.9

Daniel A. Brown