Downtown Music Gallery
Review: Ken Aldcroft’s Convergence Ensemble
Sneaky Pete-Slugs' (TRP-015)
BY: Bruce Lee Gallanter
The Convergence Ensemble is a sextet featuring Ken Aldcroft on guitar & compositions, Evan Shaw on alto sax, Nicole Rampersaud on trumpet, Scott Thomson on trombone, Wes Neal on bass and Joe Sorbara on drums. I am not sure if there is a concept in mind for this double disc although both discs end with a long (about 15 minutes) piece called Sneaky Pete and the second disc features a longer work entitled, "Slugs': Suite for Sun Ra". The only Sneaky Pete that I know is the legendary pedal steel player who was a founding member of the Flying Burrito Bros. and who worked with Frank Zappa on 'Waka Jawaka'. Slugs was a jazz club on East Third St. (in Alphabet City when it was scary) during the sixties where the Sun Ra Arkestra had weekend residency for a long period.
Although there are five pieces on Disc 1 called "Solo", only some of which are actually solos. It sounds more like a series of skeletally written pieces with different short solos, duos or trios in between the longer pieces. While Mr. Aldcroft takes a long and winding solo on "Insight", the three horns & rhythm team play somber, dreamy charts with occasional horn solos or duos emerging from the (written?) undertow. Ken has a unadorned jazz tone on his guitar, with little or no effects. I dig the way his solos wind there way thematically through these pieces providing a focal point yet never screaming or pushing too hard. Both the playing and writing are part of the same fabric that holds this music together, while the unforced nature of the playing makes it easy to swallow and understand. At more than a hundred minutes, there is way too much interesting music here to describe. The first disc alone (about sixty minutes) had me consistently enchanted so onto the Sun Ra Suite which should also blow my mind, no doubt.