We had the opportunity last night, Independence Day Night, to attend an album release party for the new Global Illage album “The Complete Portland Sessions.” I’ve written about this mind blowing quartet previously. They’re all about improvisational music and, truthfully, I think they’re channeling the 22nd Century pretty forcefully. Global Illage is Chris Cuzme on reeds and bass; Dan Sears, trumpet and keyboards; Jim Hamilton, percussion; and Tim Motzer playing guitar and electronics (like a winged angelic mad professor blend of Frank Zappa and Pat Metheny). Their music grooves, flies, digs, screams, settles, electrifies, and calls forth the spirits of so many of our greatest musical geniuses of the past 100+ years.
I asked a couple other people at the concert last night what we would call this stuff. Our final pick was global acid jazz fusion beat. Each musician brings his distinct musical intelligence to the mix. And each musician is a world-class performer who could probably sit in with anyone from Yo-Yo Ma to Taylor Swift.
I did a lot of chuckling last night. Most people hadn’t heard a lot of the work these four wizards were spinning for us. I had. My friend Jim Hamilton, the band’s percussionist extraordinaire, gave me an advance demo of the album about a month ago and I’ve had it cranked every morning since while I do layout and editing of the paperback version of my novel Beyond the Will of God.
I was chuckling because while I heard pieces of the tunes from their album, they were taking us off on insanely fascinating uncharted musical adventures in each of the maybe 10 compositions they performed over a 2 1/2 hour trip.
It was Independence Day and most of the country was jostling for parking space and a piece of ground to watch fireworks. We were in Jim’s backyard with 40-50 other likeminded jam lovers watching four cats groove as independent musical thinkers in a totally American far out way. [Note: Philly has the blessing of The Roots as our 4th of July houseband down on the Parkway before fireworks, so that’s a pretty descent improvisational crew sending out their own vibe for the half million who show up there, too]. In fact, we weren’t just watching guys jam like few others can jam, we had the added visual treat of a digital light show by Dejha Ti and Eric Silverson flashing and swarming the colonial era barn behind the band.
Near the end of the concert last night I was struck quite cleanly between the eyes by the revelation that the creative improvisational act has to be one of the most powerful altered states available to us as humans. I chuckled at that as the Ill boys were winding down their last number. We were standing in a dense urban neighborhood in the city where liberty was born watching astounding musicians demonstrate the magic and height of freedom.
Thanks Tim, Jim, Dan and Chris. You guys are the best. Miles and Trane would be proud.