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Billy Bang 

Sweet Space/Untitled Gift

Wednesday, Nov 10 2004
A trooper on the front lines of the New York culture wars of the early '70s, violinist Billy Bang was a key "Loft Jazz" soldier: a cutting-edge composer-improviser and concert producer who pushed forward the do-it-yourself avant-garde agenda despite dogged establishment efforts to shut it down. The new double-CD reissue of two long-out-of-print LPs -- Sweet Space (from 1979) and Untitled Gift (1982) -- demonstrates the power of Bang's persistence and the farsightedness of his vision. Recorded toward the end of the Loft Jazz period, both of these discs sizzle with a vibrant, explorative energy that's clearly alive in today's most dynamic new jazz. Along with a class-A cast of fellow revolutionaries (including saxophonist Frank Lowe, cornetist Butch Morris, and bassist Wilber Morris), Bang steers his groups through punchy melodies, ear-bending harmonies, and uptempo beats, while giving equal respect to individual freedom and Mother Africa.

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Sam Prestianni


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