Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ronald Shannon Jackson & The Decoding Society - 1982 - Man Dance

Ronald Shannon Jackson & The Decoding Society 
Man Dance

01. Man Dance (4:31)
02. Iola (5:23)
03. Spanking (3:07)
04. Catman (6:44)
05. The Art Of Levitation (1:24)
06. Belly Button (4:45)
07. Giraffe (3:07)
08. When Souls Speak (5:47)
09. Alice In The Congo (6:09)

Ronald Shannon Jackson / drums, compositions
Vernon Reid / guitar & banjo
Melvin Bibbs / bass
Rev. Bruce Johnson / bass
Henry Scott / flugelhorn, trumpet
Lee Rozie / sax
Zane Massey / sax
David Gordon / trumpet

Jackson's compositions here remind me of a freer, funkier version of Moondog, which might be the highest complement I can give to a jazz musician. This one's also helped along by the fact that the musicians clearly love playing with each other - listen to how much fun Melvin Gibbs is having playing off of Vernon Reid's banjo on "Iola," or "The Art of Levitation," which is Danny Elfman-esque in its demented glee.

Because Zane Massey isn't exactly the type of saxophonist who can carry a track into the stratosphere this album is at its best when it heads into funkier over freer territory (think the extended bass leads at the end of "Catman" or the terrific closer "Alice in the Congo," which only comes out of its menacing lurch for extended string solos) though Reid in particular shines in the heavily-improvised moments, unleashing James Blood Ulmer-level leads all over the place. The dual bass lineup of Gibbs and Bruce Johnson also leads to some interesting textures, especially on "When Souls Speak." All in all, this a solid piece of 1980s free-funk style jazz, not the type of thing that will appeal to Blue Note Records purists but certainly enjoyable if your tastes are a little more out there.