World Trade Music
Review from AMG: It's been nearly ten years since the release of this CD and twenty since Mora Catlett's first project ('Mora' on AACE.) In the interim the drummer/percussionist has worked with Max Roach's M'Boom, Sun Ra, and his own band Amigo around the Detroit area. For this recording he employs fellow Detroiters as bassist Rodney Whitaker and pianist Craig Taborn as a core trio. The bulk of the material is piano-bass-drums in a jazz context, though the first four selections are based on traditional Yoruban themes. The others are Mora Catlett originals with varying combinations of musicians, and two larger ensemble pieces. Mora himself is a steady drummer, showing occasional oubursts of power, and has a solid background in the Afro-Cuban rhythmic history, which he liberally sprinkles in. On the four Yoruban numbers Taborn shines. His avant Cecil Taylor-like tendencies are restrained, letting the pure beauty of his concept flower. 'Iron Master' is a 6/8 melody with latter period repeated figure, 'Hunter's Child' turns dramatic with a cha-cha-cha flavor, while 'Baba' is a lilting line. The shimmering, prayer song 'Vital Force' is quite reminiscent of Yusef Lateef's 'Morning' with an Alice Coltrane-esque spirituality wrapped in a patient 4/4 swing, punctuated by a long drum solo. The larger combo recapitulates the piece from 'Mora' 'Cultural Warrior,' an anthem for pianist Kenn Cox, who appears on the track along with tenor saxophonist Vincent Bowens, echoing in a dramatic, deliberate fashion Cox's undeniable spirit and soul. An even bigger group for 'El Morro' provides a loping motif for Cox, Bowens, trumpet soloist Marcus Belgrave, bass clarinetist Alex Harding and flutist/trombonist Sherman Mitchell to collectively fete the leader while he directs this caravan step sound sculpture. The remaining pieces are snippets of piano, percussion or non-piano trio workouts, interludes or preludes. A completely free bash 'Crossroads' with Mora and percussionist Andrew Daniels, Harding on baritone sax, Nik Pena on trumpet and Cass Richmond on alto sax, abstractly wails. Pena on sea shells and forest whistles, with Mora, concoct jungle sounds for the convincing 'The Other Side Of The Mask.' This music has a certain improvised content with Afro-Cuban inflections. Rather than latin jazz it is a true new music, borrowing from modern and ancient traditions, and is best heard as a complete work, more orchestral in nature than several suites or series of unrelated songs. 'El Morro' really stands out, perhaps as a tribute to it's fearless leader. Recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide.