Louis Siciliano isn’t interested in musical business as usual. His latest release Ancient Cosmic Truth is a four track collection pushing jazz fusion to its outer edges without ever descending into unadulterated insanity. He’s interested in establishing a new language for the form and has recruited some of the jazz world’s best musicians to make that possible. Siciliano’s multifaceted synthesizer playing works quite well with the playing of former Weather Report percussionist Alex Acuna, trumpet player Randy Brecker, drummer Claudio Romano, and tenor saxophonist Umberto Muselli. This assemblage of musicians are steeped in jazz and there’s even a progressive edge to the music that defies anything you will hear in modern music today. I am not familiar with much of jazz or jazz fusion, but these men crafted something extraordinary with this brief effort that will likely stand for years to come.
“Bambara’s Symmetries” kicks things off with a short but punchy number that caught my attention. Much of the release hinges on the playing of the group’s two percussionists and the opener is a prime example of that. They establish the underlying foundation that allows the other musicians to weave superb melodies over the top while Siciliano provides extensive color throughout. Brecker and Muselli puncuate those melodies with freewheeling playing that startled me with its inventiveness. Progressive space jazz may be the best possible description for this music. It certainly lodges in the mind.
The second track “Translucent Dodecahedron” is a much more elaborate, at least on the surface, track than its predecessor. A swell of synthesizer opens the song with scattered percussion behind it and a thumping melody establishes itself soon after. Siciliano unleashes some particularly inventive synthesizer lines that have a mysterious quality without ever sounding self-indulgent. Muselli’s tenor sax takes over as we move further into the song and his playing has a vocal quality that caught me off-guard.
“The Secret of Mansa” shines in an unexpected way. After the avant-garde leanings of the previous tracks, this song has a much more introspective quality to my ears and there’s a thoughtful tilt to the performance. It makes evocative use of ocean-like sounds without ever sounding pretentious and the brass players shine. It has a dream-like aspect, as well, that I do not hear in the other songs.
I am especially taken, however, with the title song. “Ancient Cosmic Truth” does an excellent job of using voice in the music without ever losing sight of the nature of this music, it is far from a misstep, and the propulsive drumming has a revolving flavor that pulled me in. The brass players, once again, play a crucial role while Siciliano takes more of a back seat here than in other songs. It may be the most challenging moment on the release for me, but it has no interest in compromise and the intelligence of the piece leaps out at you. It’s a perfect way to end this fantastic release. Ancient Cosmic Truth left a mark on me and it will do the same for you.