AMN Reviews: Brandon Seabrook Trio – Exultations (2020; Astral Spirits)

Frenetic guitarist/banjoist Brandon Seabrook is back with his second trio offering on Astral Spirits. This time around he teams with living legends Gerald Cleaver on drums and Cooper-Moore on diddley bow across eight energetic tracks (his first trio release was with Henry Fraser and Daniel Levin). The group had played together in other arrangements and finally found a chance to record late last year.

As might be expected, Seabrook offers up scads of undistorted or lightly-distorted rapid picking, as well as well-placed power chords. This couples in an interesting and unique fashion with the diddley bow. The latter is a single-string bass instrument often associated with early American blues. Its throbbing nature results in a sound that shares more than a few rhythmic similarities with that of mid-to-late 70’s material from the French avant-prog band Magma (check out the beginning of Cudgel Majik for an example). While this likeness is almost certainly unintentional, it does add a certain alien context to Exultations. Cleaver, on the other hand, elevates free jazz drumming once again on this release. He is in rare form whether adding atmospherics on cymbal-driven downtempo pieces or blasting through shifting patterns.

Seabrook is a mad scientist of modern stringed improv and clearly the center of attention. His non-stop approach is both cerebral and invigorating.  Well done indeed.

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