Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte as Groundtruther, now with special guest John Medeski, conclude their trilogy of recordings with Altitude. Renowned keyboardist John Medeski, of famed trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, augements the team with his extended palette and knowledge of both acoustic keyboard and electronic tectures and atmospheres.
Altitude takes on a new twist in the vaulted legacy of these unique collaborations, as this time two cds individually devoted to acoustic and electric discs will be released as a set. Upon listening, these recordings prove themselves to be euqal parts haunting, exuberant and driving...and serve as the perfect concluding chapter for the Groundtruther Trilogy of recordings.
Don't be fooled by the guest appearance of John Medeski, keyboardist from groove gurus Medeski, Martin & Wood. Altitude
isn't a good-time funk-and-shimmy jam-band record but a CD of out-jazz explorations that's like a sci-fi film score transmuted through Phish channeling Sun Ra. Well, OK--I guess Phish actually used to do
all that on occasion, but this is with musicians who've spent most of their careers dancing on the knife edge. Altitude
is the third of Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte's Groundtruther
recordings. The first two, Latitude
, featured saxophonist Greg Osby and DJ Logic, respectively. But this double CD blows the roof off their sonic explorations. Which doesn't mean there isn't a lot of fun and fury. It's just not always easy to grab onto, even when they toss out life rings of chunky rhythm matched to melodic riffing. Disc 1, Above Sea Level
, is an electric storm. Besides his customary Hammond organ, Medeski plays vintage keyboards from the Moog to the mellotron, becoming a colorist dropping in space age sound effects. Charlie Hunter jettisons his R&B and jazz background in favor of early Sonny Sharrock shards of electro-distortion that often barely sound like the seven-string guitar he plays, let alone a regular guitar. Bobby Previte plays electronic drums, often creating sound effects but also dropping in a funky groove like "Seoul Tower." But just as often, he's tossing garbage cans down the hill. Disc 2, Below Sea Level
, is a pure free-form abstraction that suggests a meeting ground between Karlheinz Stockhausen and Keith Jarrett. Entirely acoustic, it manages to be both freer and more organic than Above
. Hunter calculates angles between classical and prepared guitar while Medeski wanders around inside his piano and Previte plays with pots and pans in the kitchen. Yet there's an intuitive spirit here that culminates in the poetic rumination of "Mariana Trench." Groundtruther dare to step to the edge of the deepest abyss and the highest mountain. Sometimes they fly, and sometimes they fall. --John Diliberto
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