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The State of Black America by Mark Lomax Trio

Drummer / composer / arranger Mark Lomax drives a free-leaning tenor sax-fronted power trio with sure hands and graceful instincts on his fifth recording as a leader, The State Of Black America. The Blacksburg, VA native, an active music educator, and drum clinician has also worked with Azar Lawrence, Delfeayo Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, and Marlon Jordan. Lomax' compositions, while firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, give bassist Dean Hulett and tenor saxophonist Edwin Bayard plenty of room for lengthy, well-developed improvisations in a variety of settings, including modal free-bop ('Stuck In a Rut,' 'The Power of Knowing'), blues ('Blues for Charles'), ballads ('The Unknown Self'), and even a highly emotive post-Ayler blowout ('To Know God Is To Know Thy Self'). The whole CD, particularly the more expressive, free-leaning tracks, compares quite well with some of my favorite sax-bass-drums recordings by artists such as Odean Pope, David Murray, Fred Anderson, and Dewey Redman.

Lomax is a hard-charging, splashy player with a style more out of the Max Roach / Roy Haynes / Philly Joe Jones bag, rather than that of Tony Williams or Jack DeJohnette. His playing has a great sense of forward motion, and he's just as firmly in charge on the CD's sole ballad as he is on the uptempo stuff that dominates this great disc. Bayard, like Lomax, is a new name to me. The young saxophonist – the son of a be-bop trumpeter - has been working with Lomax for the better part of the present decade. He's got a great, broad, muscular 'bull tenor' sound that is as much about Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster as it is about Coltrane, Booker Ervin, and Sonny Rollins. He's a remarkably well-rounded soloist, as his smoky, slow-burn playing on 'Blues for Charles' is just as effective as his fiery volcanic eruptions on 'To Know God...' Hulett has also worked with Lomax in a variety of musical settings for the last several years. His rhythm section playing is swinging and sure-footed, and his solos are superbly detailed. Though you may not be familiar with them (yet!) – none of these guys are wanting in the chops department!

In addition to all of the great playing and great music to be found on The State of Black America, there's a serious message being offered as well. Lomax details the personal and philosophical issues that brought this music to the forefront in his relatively brief, but very frank, liner notes. The State of Black America is an excellent recording of three young artists with a lot to say – I can't wait to hear more!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mark Lomax Trio
  • CD Title: The State of Black America
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Inarhyme Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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