A little more than two years ago I shared a track from the brilliant 1991 album Ask the Ages by guitarist Sonny Sharrock as a 12 O'Clock Track. It might seem excessive to post a different cut from that record today, but since the recording was reissued on November 13 (by M.O.D. Technologies, an imprint owned by bassist Bill Laswell, who produced the album and originally released it on his now-defunct Axiom label) I think there's cause for doing so. As I wrote back then, Sharrock was one of the most explosive, original, and noisy guitarists of the free-jazz era, and after years of obscurity this recording was the final and most visible stage in his critical rediscovery—it had already been gathering steam due to a few strong albums in the late 80s and work with the all-star improvising quartet Last Exit (with Laswell, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Peter Brötzmann).
Ask the Ages was made with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Charnett Moffett, and the crisp, hard-driving album reinforced the guitarist's volatile sound, but also reminded listeners of his deep jazz roots. That's something you can certainly detect on today's 12 O'Clock Track, "Little Rock," one of the album's most swinging selections, an approach that doesn't stop Sharrock from executing a wonderfully brutal solo. The original album cover was forgettable—for some reason the reissue makes it worse.