Sunday, June 21, 2020

Album Review: Rudresh Mahanthappa- Hero Trio

One of the truest barometers of musical popularity is what’s heard blaring out of open car windows.  For better or worse, the phenomenon hardly abated during the coronavirus era.  While I frequently hear the music of the Kansas City icons Rich the Factor and Tech N9ne at stoplights, I’ve encountered the music of Charlie Parker emanating from a car exactly once.  And given the rare instance occurred near Parker’s grave at Lincoln Cemetery, it almost doesn’t count. 

The track list of Rudresh Mahanthappa’s new album Hero Trio reveals what the heralded New York based jazz saxophonist would blast on a car stereo.  In addition to rabble-rousing readings of Charlie Parker staples including “Red Cross”, Mahanthappa, bassist Fran├žois Moutin and drummer Rudy Royston interpret selections associated with Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins.  From Mahanthappa’s tart tone to his startling melodic choices, Hero Trio is the most vital homage to Parker’s innovations since the bandleader’s 2015 album Bird Calls

As I noted in an assessment of the essential new box set The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection, the persuasive vitality of Parker’s music doesn’t require apologies or excuses.  Once again, Mahanthappa provides further evidence that Bird doesn’t merely live- he thrives.  The indefensible embargo currently tarnishing the reputation of Kansas City takes nothing away from Mahanthappa’s achievement.  I’ll be bumping Hero Trio in my whip through the remainder of this momentous summer.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

No comments: