Epic 1976 / Esoteric 2014
Expanding his scope, fusion visionary enters a new phase to gain the momentum.
1976 was a solidifying time for David Sancious who emerged from the previous year’s "Forest Of Feelings" as a jazz-rock force to reckon with and admire. Up for reaping what he’d sown, the 22-year-old called his rhythm section a band and went for a prog approach – quite an unexpected move from an African American artist, yet Sancious never limited his horizon. Instead, David painted it with colour, never more so than on this album which, over the course of four pieces only, embraces both heaven and earth.
In its heart lies a constant movement that shifts the moods of the side-long title composition and opener “Piktor’s Metamorphosis,” the latter bursting into life with a thunder which shatters a quiet glimmer of an introduction to bits only to coil into an introspective flow and serene wordless vocalise and lead such a dynamic dance once and again. The speed exploration starts there, as the piece’s swirl is passed from keys to strings and Sancious’ fingers run from an easy jive to a light shredding, but everything slows down for “Sky Church Hymn #9,” the Hendrix-inspired purified blues, initially acoustic and slide-caressed and – here’s another change boosted with Gerald Carboy’s bass and Ernest Carter’s drums – electrically dirty and funky as it progresses towards a sparse, if heavy, stereo-testing climax.
As if to contrast such an onslaught, “The Play And Display Of The Heart” presents a translucent minuet that weaves a delicate guitar lace around contemplative piano vignettes, both joyfully uptempo and fizzily unhurried yet exquisite in their search of a margin between fusion and what would be called new-age. But the suite that gave the album its title finds no time to stop and think – it’s a neverending ride into the very core of burning emotion, where melodies and rhythms engage in a kaleidoscopic roll leaving a pride of space for the organ wildness and Fender Rhodes carnival. Immediacy doesn’t not dwell there, and still the record’s sophistication is sweet, albeit not as transcendental as one may assume; as a treatise on the development of passion, it’s perfect, though.