When I started taking notes during my initial spins of this intriguing hook-up, the first phrase I jotted down was “space mountain.” The cosmic roller coaster inside Disneyland’s “Magic Kingdom” seemed an apt analog for the continuous contours that the iconic drummer and esteemed bassist concoct on their second recorded meeting. Milford Graves’ earthy pummels and ritual clangs form an alliance with Bill Laswell’s fuzzed and echo-soaked strings. On paper, the former’s acoustic gravitas uniting with the latter’s electric fierceness might seem incongruous, but in practice Space/Time Redemption is a coordinated sprawl that banks on opposites not only attracting, but enhancing each other.
The 73-year-old percussionist is a revered free jazz elder who has brought a wealth of inspired idiosyncrasies to the music since the mid-60s, and remains active on the NYC scene. He’s also a holistic healer who scrutinizes the rhythms and pitches of human heartbeats for inspiration and wellness purposes. His interplay with the ever-adventurous Laswell helps ground the continuous low-register swoosh that marks the bassist’s string work on much of Space/Time Redemption.’The duo occasionally forms pulse patterns and work a counterpoint strategy, but in the large Laswell creates sweeping melodies that seem to lasso the sky while Graves pours all sorts of improve gambits into a dense stream of ideas that ultimately seems impossibly fluid.
Here Laswell abandons his well-known love of groove (from dub to electronica he’s long applied a calibrated thrust to his work) and puts his money down on the kind of open-ended ambiance that embraces color over beats. A run through his 2012 solo disc ‘Means of Deliverance’ sheds some light on where these sounds come from. Last summer Graves and Laswell dropped a 40-minute live piece entitled “Back In No Time” on The Stone. It, too, snaked through various improv environments, but it felt like it was digression rather than a formulated search. Space/Time Redemption is cure-all for that affair. Between the exquisite sound (from mallets to palms, Graves wrings a wealth of textures from his instrument) and an enviable focus, it’s a satisfying dalliance that suggests jazzadelic romps are still worthy excursions.