1/  Purification                                (Belogenis,Laswell,DD,Sorey)   12.13
  2/  Double Dorje                                (LB,Laswell,Douglas,Sorey)     5.29
  3/  Renunciation                                (Belogenis,Laswell,Douglas,TS) 8.11
  4/  Truth of Cessation                          (Belogenis,BL,Douglas,Sorey)   9.41
  5/  Wrathful Compassion                         (Belogenis,Laswell,Douglas,TS) 3.54
  6/  Diamond Vehicle                             (LB,Laswell,Douglas,Sorey)     6.55
  7/  Lineage                                     (Belogenis,Laswell,DD,Sorey)   6.54
          Recorded February 27, 2015 at Orange Music Sound, West Orange, New Jersey
          Engineered by James Dellatacoma
          Mixed March 20, 2015 by James Dellatacoma
          Produced by Louie Belogenis
          Associate Producer: Kazunori Sugiyama
          Executive Producer: John Zorn
          Mastered by Scott Hull
Louie Belogenis: tenor saxophone; Dave Douglas: trumpet; Bill Laswell: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

          2015 - Tzadik (USA), TZ 4010 (CD)


Blue Buddha is a special collective group consisting of Dave Douglas on trumpet, Bill Laswell on electric bass, Louie Belogenis on tenor saxophone and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. The music was recorded live in the studio without edits or overdubs and that sense of "without a net" excitement pervades the disc. This group plays spiritual jazz of a unique nature beginning with “Purification” which is spacious, with the saxophone playing off against the trumpet and disjointed percussion. The music takes a long time developing but the payoff is well worth it with excellent drumming and cries of saxophone and trumpet. Belogenis plays some raw and rending saxophone to open “Double Dorje” and Sorey responds with open percussion, very free and unfettered with a Spiritual Unity feel. There is some really great saxophone and drum interplay, making for a wonderful match of musicians. “Truth of Cessation” has spacious breathy trumpet, playing quiet long breaths and longing peals of saxophone responding followed by open ended drumming and Laswell’s enveloping soundscape. Trumpet in free space sounding confident and making a statement, the kind of music Douglas used to make with groups like the Tiny Bell Trio. “Wrathful Compassion” is the band at its most ferocious and it is an absolute thrill ride from start to finish. The full group comes out immediately playing fast and hard, making for a very exciting free jazz sound that is going for broke developing a swirling a mass of extraordinary sound, moving into sensory overload. The trumpet and saxophone are absolutely scalding while the bass and drums manhandle the rhythm. Bruised deft drums and baying horns give a haunted air to “Diamond Vehicle” followed by hollow sounding electric bass. Beats of trumpet and rough grained sandpaper saxophone, bubbling bass percolate before things really start to move. Powerful jabs and peals of trumpet engage back and forth with Belogenis’ unrestrained saxophone. He has an amazing free sound that recalls Pharoah Sanders at times. Laswell’s supportive bass has an unusual sound throughout the record, buoyant and cavernous while Sorey’s facile drumming is fascinating throughout. “Lineage” ends the album with saxophone calling out with bare supplication, like a humble prayer. Gong like cymbals add to the spiritual feeling, delving into deep meditative thought and the bringing forth of hopes and dreams. Sorey gets more aggressive, again driving excellent drum and saxophone interaction. They move faster and more unfettered, reaching and digging in deeper and propelling themselves higher, for a superb conclusion. This music has a sacred vibe to it that runs from the great avant garde jazz of the 1960’s through to today. The music is luminous and open hearted, imposing yet quite accessible

Tim Niland (courtesy of the Jazz and Blues blog)


We owe a big thanks to John Zorn. If it wasn’t for Zorn, we wouldn’t have the adventurous quartet known as Blue Buddha, which consists of trumpeter Dave Douglas, bassist Bill Laswell, drummer Tyshawn Sorey and tenor saxophonist Louie Belogenis, who is the leader and producer of this project, part of the Tzadik label’s Spectrum Series.

The Blue Buddha quartet had its genesis when Belogenis and Douglas were part of a larger ensemble Zorn put together for a curated event. Douglas and Belogenis knew each other but had not seen each other for years. Belogenis says, “There was an amazing hookup. We both heard and felt it…we were developing a musical language and having a real exchange of ideas.” The two later independently told Zorn about that evening’s alchemy. Zorn understood the opportunity, suggested Laswell and Sorey, and the result was an early 2015 recording date and this self-titled, 53-minute album of all new music.

The seven tracks are grounded in Belogenis’ Buddhism: he has been an active Buddhist for more than four decades. He regards his meditative practice as fundamental to his performances. Belogenis states, “I try to have my music reflect…peacefulness; the sincere desire to overcome obstacles and remove impediments.” Belogenis cites John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Sanders as influences for that kind of direction. Those musicians created music which ranged from contemplative to chaotic and the Blue Buddha foursome follows a parallel path.

The invocation-inclined “Purification” has a spiritual and spacious aspect. Belogenis’ tenor sax plays off against Douglas’ trumpet, while Laswell layers an effects-speckled electric bass underpinning as Sorey utilizes cymbals, light percussive taps and ambient rhythmic embellishments. “Renunciation” has an analogous freedom. The performance escalates into a fiery form where trumpet and then tenor sax reach for the stratosphere while Laswell furnishes unique melodies and harmonies, and Sorey responds with some remarkable, rapid rhythmic excursions.

Free jazz or free improv is the norm on other, tougher pieces. “Wrathful Compassion,” is four minutes of harshly harmonized material, with Laswell’s distorted and buzzing bass seething underneath a sax and trumpet fusillade. There’s also sharpness to the bruising but at times tender “Diamond Vehicle,” where Sorey’s adroit drumming and the twinned horns provide an unconventional but engaging aura. Blue Buddha should be heard and experienced by those who are followers or devotees of the 1960s and 1970s NYC loft jazz scene; who want to investigate an excellent post-Sanders undertaking; or who gravitate to outsider jazz music.

Doug Simpson (courtesy of the All Music Guide website)