LISLE ELLIS – Sucker Punch Requiem


Bassist Lisle Ellis assembled a who’s who of sorts for this recording, which constitutes a personal homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of his biggest influences. The names involved comprise Pamela Z (voice, electronics), Holly Hofmann (flutes), Oliver Lake (saxophones), George Lewis (trombone), Mike Wofford (piano) and Susie Ibarra (drums and percussion) besides Ellis himself, who also utilizes electronics and is credited with “sound design”. The music – initially modelled after the same structure of the Mass for the Dead of the Roman Catholic Church and subsequently modified by an “overwriting” process – is certainly conceived and played with class and knowledge, all the participants having been fitted in a role exclusively designed according to their creative character. The jumps between modern conceptions of jazz and “acousmatic” tracks full of concrete snippets, synthetic malformations and Pamela Z’s cut-up vocals are at times intriguing, often slightly displacing. For sure the composer wasn’t thinking about an “obedient” kind of score in the beginning; still, as the time flows the whole becomes a bit comfortable, losing the initial push to adapt a little more to conventionality, despite several sumptuous moments (in certain sections, “For blues and other spells” sounds like a mixture of Bacharach and Zappa). What largely defines the album is the functional interconnection of different instrumental voices, their personality adding depth to the pieces. An interesting concept, developed through intelligent ideas and with plenty of pleasant moments – yet somehow I perceive the target as partially missed.


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