A few years ago Eremite Records reissued a 1972 record billed to vibist Khan Jamal called Drumdance to the Motherland, which was originally released on Dogtown Records—a tiny independent owned by reedist Byard Lancaster. As unlikely as it seems, the music mashed up free jazz, psychedelia, and even dub (thanks to live mixing by Mario Falana, brother of Lola Falana) to produce an otherworldly sound world on par with the interplanetary excursions of Sun Ra.
Many of the same musicians are present on a self-titled album by Sounds of Liberation, a studio effort originally released the same year on the same label. The record was recently reissued by Porter Records, which had already unearthed a few Lancaster albums. In the 60s and 70s he was an overlooked presence on the New York free-jazz scene, playing and recording with Sunny Murray, Bill Dixon, Marzette Watts, and Burton Greene, among others, and he spent part of the 90s in Chicago, during which time he was in Funkadesi for a while. Perhaps because it's a studio outing, it doesn't sound quite as bonkers as Drumdance to the Motherland, but its red-hot mix of free jazz and funk is equally compelling. Over deep grooves carved out by drummer Dwight James, bassist Billy Mills, and percussionists Rashid Salim and Omar Hill, a dazzling front line of Lancaster, Jamal, and extraordinary guitarist Monnette Sudler juggle meditative melodic passages and ecstatic improvisation, balancing fiery extroversion with spiritual cool.
Below you can listen to the album track "Billie One," where Sudler drops a concise but devastating solo.
Al "Cake" Wichard Sextette, Cake Walkin': The Modern Recordings 1947-48 (Ace)
Andreas Berthling, Tiny Little White Ones (Like Handfuls of Salt) (Mitek)
Javier Vercher, Wheel of Time (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Bo Diddley, I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958 (Hip-O Select/Geffen)
Massimo Biolcati, Persona (ObliqSound)