Carter, on tenor, and Campell, on trumpet, seemed to be on the bow of this ship as it rode the sound waves in both calm and torrential waters. In retrospect, I can say that the shape of this improvisational work was indubitable. Carter rocked with his tenor rising and falling with the incidence of contrapuntal lines.Campell did not wander from statements he was making parallel with Carter; although, at one point, after he had bowed out to give way to Carter, Roy came back with the mellowness of the flugelhorn, which took an edge off the development and allowed the listeners to rest in a less blatant array of notes. Shipp, Bakr, and Parker bonded in a percussion support system for the two horns. The rhythm was stated heavily at he beginning of the work: Shipp played nothing but chords for quite awhile; Bakr did not use the bass drum with Shipp until he had exhausted the tensions he could create with the delicate sound of the cymbals as it aligned with the intense directedness of the horns; Parker continuously plucked the strings on his bass to usher around a sound that seemed to be one long note. The group painted a picture for me of wavelengths on an oscilliscope. Yet, that picture faded away as I realized the focus that I had to maintain in order to know where this group was going. Shipp utilized the piano as the percussion instrument that it is. Bakr played a surprisingly conventional drumset sensitively, accenting the musical flow with his bass drum or a snap of the snare at just the right moments. Parker amazed me with his ability to not stop playing. The rhythm of the piece popped out at a place when Parker took the ropes: it was brilliant- Bakr backed Parker in unison revealing a beat that I could not believe I was hearing. There was one instant where the entire group confoundingly met a hiatus of complete silence. At that juncture, they began the journey home. I knew they were almost there when the deep chordal pounding of the piano coincided with the mallet head hitting the bass drum. They closed in a mergeance of aural splendor.
During the set break, I visited the area at the front of the meetinghouse where the musicians performed. Carter's instruments were laid out carefully on a table. The grand piano sat behind, on a stage; the top was opened fully but draped with a storage quilt on the unhinged side to sculpt the sounding board's resonance back into Shipp's ears, thus, separating it from the drumset of Bakr which sat right next to the piano. Parker's bass is old and worn, but massaged over time by the master's hands. Campell (who, by the way, was dressed in a bright red satin shirt, and a baseball cap) endearingly left all three of his horns, including a pocket trumpet, in his bag of horns.
The second set consisted of four shorter pieces. The first had a quick tempo. This was not the first time in the concert that I noticed how Campell's fingers worked the valves on his trumpet: with such agility that they looked like the flutterring of a bird's wing. The second piece was surprisingly romantic; Shipp slipped easily into plucking the piano strings to speak with the remaining musicians as an angel would with those to who it was acting as guardian. Parker bowed the bass in these works: he is astonishing in his ability to make the bass sound like a cello, offering out of its physical volume one continuous, flowing sound. Carter also exhibited his talents with the flute. Campell pulled out a mute for this set to change the not undelicate quality of his sound. The third and fourth pieces in this set included the trumpet work of Raphe Malik. Both of these pieces provided cascades of sound that encompassed the audience in simultaneous warmth and brilliance. The fourth and concluding piece gently opened with Carter playing a honest, quieting melody on the tenor. The group took it through its variations with triple horns charting the way back to the same melody at the end.
When the music started, I wondered where these soulful musicians were taking me, as they each voiced their individual, yet remarkably unified, spirits in every sensible way. When the music was over, I thought carefully... about where I had been.