Mark Lomax Trio – The State of Black America (2010)

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by S. Victor Aaron

The drummer and composer Mark Lomax convened a recording session with saxophonist Edwin Bayard and bassist Dean Hulett with a batch of compositions that the Blacklist co-founder wrote when he was trying to come to terms with his own identity as both an American and a black person. His personal rediscovery and way of dealing with the complex issues of race in America fueled these five compositions that make up The State of Black America. Going back to Parker, Rollins and Coltrane, Lomax starts with one of the most distinctively African-American music forms: the blues. He uses the blues to set the parameters within each of the three make living, breathing organisms out of Lomax’s songs. For instance, “Stuck In A Rut” is anything but, a rambunctious romp keyed by Dean Hulett’s rumbling bass and Lomax crashing all about his kit. Bayard’s tenor blows hot and hard, but he stays loosely tethered to a root. “The Unknown Self” is more quietly spiritual and Hulett gets plenty of real estate to articulate his thoughtful solo. “Blues For Charles (Who Split B4 The Butterfly Flew In)” is explicit blues that is played with care and commitment. Though no words are spoken or sung, The Mark Lomax Trio gets its point across, that jazz is not some classical Western music invention, but a great African-American heritage.

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