LISLE ELLIS - Sucker Punch Requiem: An Homage To Jean-Michel Basquiat (Henceforth 104; USA) Featuring Oliver Lake on saxes, George Lewis on trombone, Pamela Z on voice & electronics, Holly Hofmann on flutes, Mike Wofford on piano, Lisle Ellis on bass & electronics and Susie Ibarra on drums & percussion. If you haven't already read the lengthy interview with the great bassist, Lisle Ellis, in the current January -March edition of Cadence magazine, you really should, it is quite fascinating and filled with many insights into the mind and history of our of finest bassists and composers. I've known Lisle for some 20+ years, since hearing him with Paul Plimley up at an early Victo fest. The interview really filled in much of mystery/history of this enigmatic artist.
'Sucker Punch Requiem' is a most fascinating work. It is an homage to the late, great downtown "street" artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Lisle has been working with a unique electronics set-up over the past few years and live, he often seems to struggling to get it work right. On this disc, Lisle has had time to work at length with his electronics and manipulations and the results often stunning. Each of the 16 pieces is relatively short and quite focused. Each piece is like a painting with attention to each detail on the canvas. "Incantation and Ascent" sounds as if it is from a scene in a film noir flick with Oliver Lake's lonely sax cry drifting in perfectly near the end. Straight ahead pianist Mike Wofford seemed like an odd choice at first but he fits perfectly by playing these often haunting, sublime, oblique notes throughout. Lisle has chosen each of these musicians for their ability to see or hear above those genres that critics or marketing knuckleheads too often limit musicians to. Hence this music is an interesting hybrid of different interconnected styles, yet remains seamlessly interwoven with different ideas and scenery. Lisle has also composed a number of fine, contemplative melodies here, that add a special charm to much of the proceedings. "Sucker Punch Requiem" is a wonderful endeavor overall and not very "out." This might come as a surprise to some who expect more outside sounds from Lisle based on his previous recordings. Forget those expectations and enjoy this special gift.