ONE WE MISSED: Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite; Part Three (Big Dad)

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2AM at Veselka
ONE WE MISSED: Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite; Part Three (Big Dad)

This muscular trio (with guests) first came to Elsewhere's attention only late last year on the belated jazz tribute to Sgt Pepper where they delivered a usefully different treatment of Harrison's Within You Without You which connected to the more experimental end of American jazz.

As the title here tells you, we come to this suite – which appeared in the middle of last year – as the final part of a trilogy . . . but in these matters Spotify is your friend because you can listen to the first two parts there, and they act as a bridge between black poets, hard bop, Latin sounds, quietly considered work (check Fruit Stand on Part One), hints of exotica (Snake Charmer on Part Two) and free jazz.

They are certainly connected – a guest on four pieces here is altoist Roy Nathanson who co-founded Jazz Passengers in the late Eighties and has impeccable credentials, and the cover art is by Julian Schnabel – and the Collective's trio here of tenor player Isaiah Barr, drummer Austin Williamson and acoustic bassist Walter Stinson certainly conjure up inner-city NYC in its various moods: romantically noir on the opener Onyx Court; the brief Don't Get Caught Under Manhattan Bridge is an uneasy soundtrack to that warning; Battle of the Bowery starts with a walking bass and saxophone car horns before the tempo picks up and you could conjure up the Jets and the Sharks facing off (it's dance not a fight, the latter comes in the more edgy angularity Rumble in Chatham Square). And FDR Drive captures some of that traffic urgency in an exciting closing piece.

Recorded live at Magic Gallery on Canal Street in Chinatown, the Onyx Collective are the kind of tight outfit which offer a more finely focused jazz (10 pieces in 35 minutes) than the swirling extemporising of Kamasi Washington but have not dissimilar – if slightly more left-field – reference points.

Well worth seeking out, even if we are a little late to this party.

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