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Idle Moments

Stanley Cowell - Musa-Ancestral Streams (Strata-East)

Stanley Cowell - Musa-Ancestral Streams (Strata-East)

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Stanley Cowell was the co-founder of the ever influential Strata-East label, as well as a founding member and conductor of the Collective Black Artists Ensemble. He was a true giant, revered by his peers, whose music had depth, beauty and a haunting quality. Musa Ancestral Dreams is a solo piano set of stunning reach and scope, on which Cowell plays piano, electric piano and kalimba. The overall feel is deeply spiritual and always soulful. “Equipoise” is such a classic tune, a revered standard which has been recorded and covered countless times (most notably with Cowell himself on Max Roach’s seminal album Members Don’t Git Weary, but also more recently by Dwight Trible and Sa-Ra), and here was the first time it showed up on an album led by Cowell. This solo version, which displays the pianist’s improvising skills, was the one sampled by The Pharcyde on their classic “On the DL” track. The early, stripped down version of his own future classic "Travelin' Man," (released a couple years later in full band version on his Regeneration LP), on which Cowell overdubs and duets with himself on both acoustic and electric piano, is absolutely essential. “Departure No. 2”, which sees Powell in Cecil Taylor frantic mode, is another real treat of a faultless album. As an added (but essential) bonus, this reissue is part of the “Analogue Limited Edition” by Pure Pleasure, which means that the sound is absolutely stunning. Superb release!

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