Best of 2016 #20: Greg Ward & 10 Tongues – “Touch My Beloved’s Thought” (Greenleaf Music)


Last year, alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa earned one of the top slots on the Best of 2015 list with his excellent recording Bird Calls.  His concept for that session was to utilize fragments of Charlie Parker songs as seeds for his own explorations.  With Touch My Beloved’s Thought, alto saxophonist Greg Ward takes a similar approach in a new direction with the 1963 Charles Mingus recording The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.  Using the Mingus recording as both concept and launching point for his own live performance project, Ward sets up shop at that sweet spot where avant-garde musings, the motion of dance and a reverence for the blues all resonate equally in the same breath.  This also is an album where past and present converge, where the source of inspiration presents no obstacle to creativity with a modern vision as the guide, and where forward-thinking creativity doesn’t mean forgetting the music’s origins.  To carry this out, Ward enlists a strong ensemble, with Tim Haldeman and Keefe Jackson on saxophones, Norman Palm and Christopher Davis on trombones, Ben LaMar Gay on cornet, Russ Johnson on trumpet, Dennis Luxion at the piano, Jason Roebke on bass and Marcus Evans on drums.  And just like his counterpart Mahanthappa did last year, Ward and his ensemble 10 Tongues earn a place among this year’s best.

Artist site | Listen | Available at:  Bandcamp – Amazon – eMusic

Jazz from Chicago.

Read more about the album with my Best of Bandcamp Jazz column on The Bandcamp Daily (LINK).