Album: Ask The Ages
. . .
One of the more humbling things about doing this project is the realization of just how much music out there I’ve missed, both by artists I love — I mean, all of those Sonic Youth SYR albums (not to mention the plethora of live albums they’ve released in the past decade) (like they’re the godsadamned Grateful Dead or something) — but by artists who have never quite crossed my radar.
The reality is that nobody can get on top of all of it, which is one of the reasons this project is entitled “Certain Songs,” not “All of The Songs.” Anyways, Sonny Sharrock who — despite providing the theme song for the early seasons of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast — was exactly that kind of artist.
And that was only because I participate in some of those Twitter polls where a bunch of people vote on a bunch of albums of a particular year, narrowing it down from 128 (or whatever) to determine “the best album” of that particular year. And so, last year, they were doing 1991, and one of the albums was Sonny Sharrock’s Ask The Ages, which I’d never heard of, but there was enough interesting conversation surrounding it that I decided to check it out.
And I’m glad I did, because — given the caveat that I’m a dabbler — Ask The Ages is one of the best jazz albums I’ve ever heard: a collision of Sharrock’s fuzzed-out guitar, Pharoah Sanders free-wheeling sax and Elvin Jones’s unbelievable drumming.
I still haven’t heard Sharrock’s previous work, though I guess he played an uncredited solo on Mile Davis’s Jack Johnson album, worked with Bill Laswell, and basically straddled the worlds of rock and jazz without being what was then called “fusion.”
And so, “As We Used to Sing” starts off with bassist Charnett Moffet taking a quick solo after which Sharrock & Sanders establish a basic theme over Jones and Moffett’s hyperactive rhythms, and then everybody gets to take off. First Sharrock, then Sanders — while Jones is basically playing one extended drum solo without losing the beat — and finally a short solo from Moffett, after which the main theme slides back in and back out, leaving Moffett to solo into the fade. It’s fantastic, and for all of the wildness of the solos, extremely well-arranged, to boot.
And what it means is that I really need to get some more of his music into my life.
“As We Used to Sing”
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