Key of Life Review:

By Grego Applegate Edwards - Cadence Magazine and the Gapplegate Music Blog

The two sessions on this CD give tribute to and extend the parameters of two monumental traditions in music. The first from the infinitely deep musical well of Ornette Coleman and his associates; the second across the majestically mountainous heights of Sun Ra and his musical collaborators. As with his most recent previous recording, The Early Show Live at Twins Jazz (CIMPoL), Mr. Bond excels in such interactions. David shows an important ability not all jazzmen have in abundance, the ability to respond and dialog with the musicians at hand without losing musical identity. He does it superbly with Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell, and then in a different yet equally effective way with Marshall Allen and company.

Part of it comes out of the personality of David's sound. He forges a personal set of timbres that contrasts well with those of his musical companions. But of course David also plays distinctively in the linear sense. His melodic constructions are his own, consistently and delightfully.

The opening "Dewey's Beat" gets going at a furious clip with Ed Blackwell on a tear. David Bond's alto responds to the rhythm section with a noteful harangue that is both fleet and soulful. There's a musical logic in his choice of notes that comes out of the playing situation and his own fertile musical imagination. Dewey Redman later has his say and he has his own irrepressible take on the proceedings. The contrast between the two horns is marvelous and exhilarating to hear.

"Key of Life" again shows an impressive interplay around the distinctive stylistic affinities and contrasts of the two horns. After a musically cogent Redman-Bond interaction on the opening passages of this piece, David launches in, getting a lovely bit of vibrato and giving out with a spacious expanse of solo girth that glides along against the rhythm teams' exhortations. Dewey then shows contrast again with his own uniquely beautiful brand of precisely stated phrases, slurred flights and vocalized exorcisms.

The second session features the inimitable Marshall Allen and other Sun Ra colleagues in a most fruitful meeting with David. "Rise-Up" starts off the set with a balladic episode related to an old standard. Note Bond's plaintive tone in contrast with Marshall's puckish acidity. This one is all about group interplay and everybody has something to contribute, like in a good conversation. There are some emphatically revealing statements, some subtle laughs and in the end something important is communicated to us by what is said and how different speakers have worked together to create meaning.

"Klee's Machine" gets funky in an up-tempo context. The altos of Allen and Bond shake hands and come out swinging, mixing it up nicely.

"Moon Over Eastern Sky" gives David a workout on soprano and Marshall the same on alto while the rhythm section simmers with a loose, slow groove. Bond and Allen work in tandem; you hear the two distinctly appealing approaches to instant composition: the acidic, widely jumping roadmarks of Allen, the burnished agility of Bond.

"Sun Ra Swing" pays homage to Sun Ra and how he could get the band jumping with almost dixieland-out multi-solo barrages. In the end there's a fabulously joyous three-horn hoot-out with the legendary Andrew White joining in on tenor. These musicians revel in the differing expressions each give to the state-of-the-improvisation scene today.