D.C. progressive jazz duo Blacks’ Myths find the light in harsh noise | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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D.C. progressive jazz duo Blacks’ Myths find the light in harsh noise


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Long before drummer Warren G. “Trae” Crudup III and bassist Luke Stewart launched noisy free-jazz duo Blacks’ Myths in 2018, they backed celebrated saxophonist James Brandon Lewis as the rhythm section in his trio. They’ve also enmeshed themselves in D.C.’s jazz scene individually: Crudup performs with a slew of scene fixtures, including saxophonist Brian Settles and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis, while Stewart plays in Afrofuturist crossover group Irreversible Entanglements and works for jazz nonprofit and editorial site CapitalBop as “director of presenting and avant music editor.” Blacks’ Myths 2018 self-titled debut showcases Crudup and Stewart’s preternatural musical connection: on “Upper South,” Stewart weaves together lightly pinging foreground notes with a hypnotic, relentlessly propulsive riff, which Crudup girds with cool, in-the-pocket percussion whose brisk snap he can intensify at a moment’s notice. On their follow-up, last year’s Blacks’ Myths II (Atlantic Rhythms), they tack toward discord; Stewart’s bass takes on a blistering metallic throb, and Crudup fights off the feedback with cascading drum fills that blow open pockets of space in the noise. Though Blacks’ Myths II can be intensely discombobulating, its most irascible passages make it even sweeter when Crudup and Stewart relax into a linear melody. And when shrieking patches of noise erupt from the sluggish but triumphant “Free Land,” they feel like sunlight on the horizon.   v

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