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Isaiah Collier & the Chosen Few’s The Almighty

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    Posted: 15 May 2024 at 6:24am
    ISAIAH COLLIER & THE CHOSEN FEW GET SPIRITUAL ON ‘THE ALMIGHTY’

 

 
 

Isaiah Collier & the Chosen Few are back with their follow-up to 2021’s Cosmic Transition, and the jazz quartet continues getting down to cosmic business on The Almighty. Collier has carved out a rep as one of the premier young sax players in the modern jazz world, and his star is sure to keep rising with his ambitious agenda for 2024. The Almighty sounds like an album that could revive the spiritual jazz genre that was at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s because the positive vibe is coming back strong thanks to the metaphysical tone science in play here. 

“Where Cosmic Transitions presented the questions of how one navigates lessons learned from others, The Almighty drives home the concept that there is a force of higher vibrational energy in nature that we must become in tune with to better ourselves and society as a whole,” a press release for the record explains.

The opening track, “Love”, features Chicago vocalist Dee Alexander joining Collier on sax and percussion, Michael Shekwoaga Ode on drums, Julian Davis Reid on piano, and Jeremiah Hunt on bass. It’s a robust and energetic mood setter with a message of love to humanity featuring lyrics written for Alexander by Collier. The sax wizard channels classic influences from the 1960s in his playing, but he’s got a vibrant voice that makes him a compelling figure to witness in the live setting. 

There’s a running theme throughout The Almighty that continues on track two, “Compassion”, a lofty instrumental number that serves as a thematic interlude between the opening vocal track and the one that follows. “Compassion” also features guest saxophonist Ari Brown, a mentor of Collier’s in their native Chicago jazz scene, for a heady conversation between teacher and pupil that feels like it takes place in an angelic realm. 

The centerpiece of The Almighty emerges in song three, “Perspective (Peace and Love)”, which has the feel of an instant classic and has to be a strong contender for jazz song of the year. Collier takes the lead vocal here, and if the track sounds like it’s paying homage to the great Pharoah Sanders, that’s because it is. The infectious “peace and love” chorus is an earworm that may get lodged in the listener’s psyche indefinitely, but can there be a more timely message for this world gone mad in 2024? 

“When we are in a certain situation, we are quick to take our own sides without really offering grace and understanding, or perspective,” Isaiah Collier says. “Sometimes a situation is dark, but life is like a painting—we are all in the same gallery but on different sides of the room. Once I come to the side you are standing on and look at the same thing, only and only then can we see something different when we shift our perspective. The perspective or my point of view on this is Peace and Love…”.

In the early part of the track, Collier focuses on percussion and vocals as Davis Reid solos exquisitely on piano over uplifting polyrhythmic percussion before Collier comes back out front in a big way with some glorious sax melodies that light up the space-time continuum.

“Duality Suite” finds the Chosen Few jumping into the deep end for a wild ride on a 23-minute sonic journey that encompasses a four-part movement. Collier and Ode go off here on a fierce jam in the opening section before a segue into what feels like a higher dimension as the band brings the vibe into a more peaceful space with a sublime transition that feels like a warm spring day in Rivendell. The following swinging jam soars, with the whole quartet going off yet maintaining control like the Millennium Falcon navigating an asteroid field. The final section of the four-part movement finds the away team navigating another upbeat cosmic space, with Collier leading the way as he seeks a sonic union between the divine masculine, the divine feminine, and the elements.

The title track concludes The Almighty with an 18-minute workout that seems to start in a sacred gathering place before taking off on an interdimensional journey into the cosmos. The Chosen Few’s sound seems to ripple across time and space, with Isaiah Collier’s dynamic sax lines weaving in and out of the past, present, and future. The track soars higher still with Collier conducting “The Celestials”, an ensemble featuring strings, more horns, and an additional rhythm section. Collier and company generate a dazzling sound here with a 15-piece unit that’s really going for it.

Isaiah Collier & the Chosen Few also demand to be heard in the live setting. The second set of their March 28 show at San Francisco’s Black Cat Jazz Supper Club featured three consecutive tracks from the new album to close the evening, with “The Almighty” and “Love” setting the stage for a climactic jam on “Perspective (Peace and Love)” that went well beyond the album version’s seven minutes. It’s a song that serves well as an extended jam vehicle because the sound generates a triumphant wave of positivity that just wants to keep flowing. Collier led the Chosen Few (including guest drummer Thomas Pridgen, who was sensational) on an uplifting jam that dazzled the senses while making it feel like the power of music can still help save the world by raising the vibration of everyone present toward collective harmony. 

The Almighty is an album in the truest sense of the concept, with each of the tracks fitting together to create a greater thematic whole. It sets a high bar for the rest of the jazz world, with Isaiah Collier set to release several more records this year, including another one with the Chosen Few this July. 

from www.popmatters.com



Edited by snobb - 15 May 2024 at 6:26am
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