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Living by Lanterns - New Myth/Old Science

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Artist: Living by Lanterns

Album: New Myth/Old Science

Label: Cuneiform

Review date: Jan. 11, 2013

Living By Lanterns - "Forget B"

Percussionist Mike Reed and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz lead Living By Lanterns, a new group whose collective intuition outshines even its members’ best projects as players and leaders. The co-leaders are joined by Greg Ward on alto, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, Ingrid Laubroch on tenor, cellist Tomeka Reid, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Joshua Abrams and Tomas Fujiwara in the drum chair.

Sun Ra’s recordings from Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio archives were the impetus for Living By Lanterns, so it’s apt that the album begins with Adasiewicz’s gorgeously recorded vibes emerging from a garbled patch of Sun Ra poetry and interview footage. From that point forward, however, Reed and Adasiewicz part ways with the Saturnine Maestro and craft compositions with a distinctly different voice.

What we get is a fantastic meeting of minds from the best musicians Chicago and New York had to offer. Take the powerhouse opener, “Think Tank”; there’s the typically serpentine melodic and shifting harmonic complexities, not to mention all of the coloristic and rhythmic subtleties of that elusive but very real Chicago sound, but there’s a rawness and power that New York has called its own from the middle 1960s on (and, yes, I know I’m generalizing). It all swims into sharp focus when Halvorson’s distorted solo kicks everything into high gear, adding just the right bit of color at a strategically perfect point in the tune. (If only she’d been a bit louder in the mix.)

The Living By Lanterns soloists out-do themselves. I must admit to being fairly unreceptive to Tomeka Reid’s playing up to this point, but her solo on the introspective “Shadow Boxer’s Delight” is mesmerizing. Her approach to vibrato is a study in contrast and continuum, and she adds colors to her palette with nearly every note she plays. Likewise, Ward’s solo on “Old Science” personifies lyrical abandon as he growls and moans his way over the rhythmic accents and interjections of the two drummers.

Reed and Fujiwara’s expert anchoring of the proceedings cannot be overvalued. They lock up and compliment each other in ways too numerous to describe here, but judicious panning will make their contributions plain to the discerning listener. They supply the bedrock foundation to a series of compositions that are as interesting and diverse as their execution is engaging.

By Marc Medwin

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