This 1974 album released on Strata East by Charles Rouse, then a renowned saxophonist who played both as a leader and with the likes of Thelonious Monk or Mal Waldron, is a bit of a one off in his catalogue. The three relatively straight-up jazz funk tracks which make up side A show already quite a departure from Rouse’s hard bop style which he was best know for and are pretty cool in their own rights (check out “Hopscotch” with its rather motoric beat which does not change over the whole playing time), but hold tight until you hear the second side! This is where the group gets a whole lot more inventive, embracing the jazz rock aesthetics of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miles in his electric period. With that in mind it is no surprise to find two jazz fusion heroes Stanley Clarke and Airto Moreira featuring prominently on these tracks.
“Two Is One" is a mix of soul jazz and post bop madness, and features different tempos throughout. Stanley Clarke’s repetitive bass line is placed prominently up front, amidst free form rhythm patterns, a funky guitar, and a saxophone freaking out, not forgetting a surprising and amazing break with Airto at the centre, as well as a cello playing slanted disharmonic lines. This is jazz rock with a totally free approach, and could definitely turn a few heads (and feet!) on some of the most adventurous dance-floors of today.
“In His Presence Searching“ is equally far out, starting with a rather mysterious atmosphere, calm, droning like an Indian raga with haunting saxophone melodies on top, before an abrupt change of direction into a swirling spiritual jazz epic reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders and on which Rouse's bass clarinet makes a welcome appearance. Fantastic!
A must-have oddity that gets better and better with repeated listens. One for the funk and freak out aficionados alike.
Listen to "Two is one": https://tinyurl.com/ahwvejmy