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«Unknown Rivers»

Unknown Rivers is the hird album of American, Brooklyn-based double bass player-composer Luke Stewart’s Silt Trio, featuring tenor sax player Brian Settles and alternating drummers Warren «Trae» Crudup III (on four studio pieces) and Chad Taylor (on three live pieces), following a self-released No Treaspassing (2020) and The Bottom (Cuneiform, 2022). This trio offers spiritual jazz that relies on free grooves with strong undertones of the blues of Mississippi, where Stewart was born and raised.

Stewart is a singular mover and shaker of many musical events in New York and Washington, D.C., a writer, activist, producer and D.J. He has an omnipresent and galvanizing force on the music scene and is known for the bands Heroes Are Gang Leaders, Irreversible Entanglements, Blacks’ Myths, Heart of the Ghost, and Remembrance Quintet.

Unknown Rivers highlights Silt Trio’s elaborate rhythmic sensibilities, its close conversational dynamics and is always eager to push its themes through free improvisations. Stewart is a master of deep grooves, and his commanding and powerful playing cushions and propels the trio’s dynamics. Settles, who comes from the fertile Washington DC jazz scene, plays with a quiet intensity and articulates beautifully Stewart’s melodic themes. Crudup (who played in No Treaspassing and also plays in Stewart’s Blacks’ Myths) deepens Stewart’s grooves, but has his own rhythmic vocabulary, demonstrated in full power on the explosive «You See?».

Veteran Chicagoan Taylor (who played in The Bottom and hosts Settles in his trio) introduces funkier, polyrhythmic grooves to the trio’s interplay and the live pieces with him stress even further the hypnotic-spiritual power of the deep grooves. Just listen to the moving, mournful ballad «Dudu», most likely a homage to the legendary South African sax player-pianist-composer Dudu Pukwana, expanded on the last soulful title piece with its potent, irresistible groove.

Eyal Hareuveni

Luke Stewart (double bass), Brian Settles (tenor saxophone), Trae Trae Crudup (drums), Chad Taylor (drums)