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 HullLouie Belogenis: tenor saxophone; Dave Douglas: trumpet; Bill Laswell: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.
2015 - Tzadik (USA), TZ 4010 (CD)
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)