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Logan Richardson - alto saxophone, piano, keyboards, synths
Igor Osypov - electric and acoustic guitars
Peter Schlamb - vibraphone, keyboards, key bass,
Dominique Sanders - bass, key bass, production
Ryan J. Lee - drums, bass
Corey Fonville - drums
Laura Taglialatela - vocals
Ezgi Karakus - strings
Alto saxophonist, composer and producer Logan Richardson’s career has been marked by his deep engagement with the Black American improvised music tradition as much as by his fearlessly open-minded embrace of the contemporary sounds of the global diaspora and his keen gaze towards the future. His latest release AfroFuturism (his fifth solo album) synthesises all those elements together into a stunningly audacious statement that is epic in its scope while providing a deep, intimately personal view into its creator’s inner life. The core of the album is a series of towering alt-rock/trap/wonky beat soundscapes created Logan’s extensive range of keyboards, synthesizers and programming along with the latest iteration of his Blues People band - Igor Osypov on guitar and Peter Schlamb on vibes and keys, with Dominique Sanders on bass and sharing production duties, and the thunderously virtuosic drumming of Ryan J. Lee and Corey Fonville rounding out the rhythm team. Logan intersperses these with an array of diverse sonic interludes, scraps of found audio, unexpected, limpid pools of introspective strings performed by Ezgi Karakus and quiet glades of hushed balladry from long-time collaborator, vocalist Laura Taglialatela. Over all, his unmistakable keening voice on alto sax provides the constant narrative thread. “I was trying to get back deeper to the core of my artistic voice: using fresh production processes to mix in my interconnected influences and all the sounds I hear, while trying to find a sense of roots.”
The album starts with the voice of Stefon Harris introducing the epic ‘The Birth Of Us’ - a fully through-composed piece for the whole band -“Frank Zappa, Queen, Brian Wilson and Radiohead meets Schoenberg in a sci-fi 80s lounge,” laughs Logan. ‘Awaken’ (from a poem by Logan’s mother) and ‘Sunrays’ (with Laura Tagliatela and Corey Fonville) explore different voice and textual combinations to create enchanting oases of sound: "I was trying to tell a story - a bit about me, but then about us all." ‘For Alto’ is a nod to fellow altoist Anthony Braxton, while ‘Light’ is a ballad featuring Logan duetting with himself - "I’m addicted to ballads - they’re one of the most exposing things," he confesses. ‘Trap’ is just that - Logan’s interpretation of the contemporary Southern-US sound.
A field recording of his great-grandma singing introduces ‘Farewell, Goodbye’ - a vocal elegy, sung by Taglialatela, for the late lamented McCoy Tyner. ‘Black Wall Street’ introduces a fresh, unexpected twist via the lush strings of cellist Ezgi Karakus combining with Logan’s sax to create an oasis of acoustic sound, but the underlying message is sombre, remembering the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. There’s a burst of found audio narration from Busta Rhymes before the final trio of tunes: the Blues People band return for the muscular ‘Round Up’ a trenchant musical commentary on by the police behaviour during contemporary American protests, Logan and Laura combine with an alternately skittering and lush electronica for ‘According To You’, and then the journey ends with the gospel inspired uplift of ‘Praise You’ - "A song for God, for the earth, the rain, being thankful for the totality."
Logan summarizes: "I always feel strongly about all my projects, but this one was so fluid in the way we produced it and the way the different voices came together. It feels like something truly special." As one of today's most singular voices in contemporary music, with AfroFuturism Richardson delivers not only a hugely impressive statement, but one with a direct and urgent message for the future that is rooted in his own and the larger contemporary Black American state of affairs, while reminding us of his musical unpredictability. One can only imagine what he'll do next.
In association with Wax Industry
"One of the most gifted and transformational alto saxophonists of his generation."
★★★★ DownBeat Magazine
"Amid the synths and sci-fi there is a heartfelt sense of tradition."
★★★★ The Times
"Afrofuturism – a paradigm-shattering monster."
★★★★1/2 All About Jazz
"[Richardson shows] how far jazz can travel into the future while continuing on its journey of fusion."
UK Vibe ★★★★
"Artfully constructed soundscapes... this is a music of shifting textures and sonic contrasts."
"A myriad collection of different sounds."
"Richardson is arguably the state of the art in jazz today much in the same way Charlie Parker and John Coltrane were several generations before him.”
Jazz Artistry Now
"AfroFuturism is an album crying out to be the soundtrack for a movie."
All About Jazz
“Like looking through a lovingly curated scrapbook.”
“An imposing and exciting statement.”
Bebop Spoken Here
“It is Richardson's turn to rattle the jazz cage and confront its keyholders.”
All About Jazz
"'Afrofuturism' has the experimental drift of a mixtape."
The New York Times
"Modern jazz with a nod to the past."
"Richardson's music promises to remain ever evolving and constantly changing."
All About Jazz
"Abundant variety without concessions."
"An embrace of contemporary global sounds."
"An epic concept album."
"The interplay of the musicians works well, bringing an intense atmosphere."
"Well-established fusion jazz is shaken up vigorously."
Musik an sich
"Stylistically diverse, referring to the whole horizon of jazz – not only the trends."
"A fearlessly open-minded connoisseur of the contemporary sounds of the global diaspora."
"A complex and multi-layered album... accompanied by a first-class band."
"A stunningly audacious statement that is epic in its scope while providing a deep, intimate, personal view into its creator's inner life."
Creative, fresh, continuously surprising - this is the first album I've bought that is not straight-ahead jazz. Nachoff has won me over with brilliant writing, brilliant musicianship, and evocative arrangements. Just when a solo seems to have completed its exploration of a musical statement, for one example, the low sonorities of a beautiful synth line jump in to add gorgeous texture and to take the musical idea into fascinating territory. Bravo! freshkach
Tough to pick a favorite track here. This is a great band who obviously have many hours together under their belts. The group takes metric modulation and polyrhythmic ensemble playing to a level I have not heard before in jazz. Outstanding! duane_harvey