Irreversible Entanglements – Protect Your Light

Irreversible Entanglements Protect Your Light review

By 2022, Irreversible Entanglements, the free jazz collective born out of protest, had established themselves as a significant force in American classical music. They resonated with the resistance. A shrug-emoji generation may have missed out on Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp, but they drooled over the early ’70s output and album cover art of the Goddess Alice Coltrane. Got weaned on the rhythm and run meets drum and sax bombardment of UK duo Binker and Moses and the fly-or-die force of nature of the late jaime branch

Irreversible Entanglements met at a Musicians Against Police Brutality concert in 2015, where they were protesting the murder of Akai Gurley by an NYPD officer. In 2017, the New Jersey punk platform Don Giovanni and the International Anthem label jointly released the group’s self-titled debut album.

I caught an IE-blessed performance in 2022 as part of a Noise Pop show in Oakland. It allowed my senses to grasp IRT, and interact with the liberation-oriented, improvisational quintet in presenting this energy music to the next wave of jazz enthusiasts. Being present to absorb poet and vocalist Camae Ayewa, a.k.a. Moor Mother, saxophonist and keyboardist Keir Neuringer, trumpeter and synth merchant Aquiles Navarro, bassist Luke Stewart, and drummer Tcheser Holmes cook non-stop without taking any song breaks and seeing how engaged a mostly young crowd was with them, put me on the moon.

Impulse! Records caught wind too, saw the connection between the past and the future, then signed the outfit after three lightning bolt records on the mighty International Anthem label out of Chicago. They changed how avant-garde, contemporary, and every other way the label makes jazz is heard and presented, maintaining its origins as Black classical music, a feat many labels in 2023 still have no idea how to do

But Irreversible Entanglements, in the live music setting, does the thing, the one thing, all masters of their trade execute: While your fans may not understand everything you do in a literal or intellectual sense, they FEEL the entirety of it all. Protect Your Light is their debut release for Impulse!, primarily recorded over three days in January at the historic Rudy Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. This studio served as the lodestar for recording sessions by Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins and many other titans of jazz. Moor Mother’s spoken word invocations touch on recurring ideas of being in a “safe space,” “we’ve been here before,” and taking “our land back” throughout eight tracks that connect the blues with places where historic punk heroes Bad Brains kicked down the door for us. This record maintains knowledge of self. Touching on moments found in Pharoah Sanders’ one-song, 37-minute awkward prayer and meditation album Black Unity as well as guitarist Sonny Sharrock’s final masterpiece Ask The Ages which features skronky, squeals, putting salves on bruises incurred by this country. 

That energy music lets folks know what it is to be an outsider, preyed upon, lynched, and not able to safely travel without Canada, and the NAACP administering advisories for those whose lives may be in danger when entering the US or Florida. IE walk the blues down while Moor Mother repeats throughout “who knows the stories” on “Our Land Back” and then uplifts the mission on the title track “Protect Your Light” in the repetitive form to a carnival dance rhythm, that stomps, hits a blare-screech mid-point for utter interrupting chaos, and then marches the charge right back down a Haitian rooted thoroughfare, swaying to the beat. In proper memorial fare “root=branch,” a dedication and salute to the spirit that inhabited the late musician and artist jaime branch, their former IA labelmate, the words “let’s fly” get melded within static audio enhancements, horns cross one another, and Moor Mother reminding us all to “fly or die.”

Protect Your Light feels more completist than previous albums, with an emphasis on presenting the before and after free-jazz rumblings as if that is a reminder to know what exactly you are fighting for. This is valid when you consider how some, every day in this country, are under attack. Irreversible Entanglements provide an exceptional sanctuary.

Label: Impulse!

Year: 2023

Similar Albums:

Irreversible Entanglements Protect Your Light review

Buy this album:

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top