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Sounds From the Source by soNu

I imagine that most devotees of avant garde jazz have their moments of advocacy to their unbelieving friends: "No, really, check out this Ornette album, it really swings" or "Oh, you'd LOVE Sun Ra, you just must not heard the right ones yet." Well, as far as that goes, there are crossover artists and crossover records; soNu's Sounds From the Source represents neither. This is fiercely experimental music that will engage some listeners intellectually but enrage others emotionally.

The improvised music scene around the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) appears to be a common denominator for both the players and for the composers whose music that they perform--Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis, Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, all of whom have connections to Valencia as well as to Chicago. The tone for the CD is set with the electronic bursts that inaugurate it on "The Lady of the Dark Sonnets/Mississippi Delta." The instrumentation is eclectic as it is, but sounds even more so; a diversity of sounds are coaxed from six players singing, striking percussion, blowing winds and/or manipulating electronics. The best known of them is probably guest Vinny Golia whose intensity helps inform the pieces he plays on, especially Braxton's "Composition 287 & 98a." Another guest, vocalist Arash Haile, is likely to be the most polarizing figure on the CD; imagine what Denyce Graves might've sounded like had she trained under the tutelage of Yoko Ono and that'll give you some idea of what it sounds like and whether or not it might be for you.

Not everyone is going to like Sounds From the Source, and not everyone is supposed to. Even the oldest pieces performed here still sound strikingly modern, and soNu drives them without sparing the whip. Avant gardists will find they have something to say, but mainstream listeners are likely to walk away shaking their heads.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: soNu
  • CD Title: Sounds From the Source
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Nine Winds
  • Rating: Three Stars
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