Aquiles Navarro (trumpet) and Tcheser Holmes (percussion) are two parts of the much-acclaimed, rightly righteous, free jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements, with whom they released the excellent “Who Sent You?” album in March of this year. If you’ve not heard it yet, you should – especially the last track, “Bread out of Stone”. Yeasty.
Navarro and Holmes were irreversibly entangled long before the collective though; they’ve been playing together since meeting as students at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Navarro, a Canadian Panamanian who came from Latin folk music via the tutelage of Victor “Vitin” Paz and Carlos Garnett and Holmes who bloomed out of Brooklyn’s tight, creative Pan-African community swiftly became brothers in musical arms. And it’s Brooklyn, at S1 Studios to be exact, where “Heritage of the Invisible II” started taking shape, resulting in 10 tracks where the duo expanded by adding layered samples; some Juno 106 and Moog Grandmother wizzery; contributions from vocalist, poet and instrumentalist friends; plus field recordings of NAVARROHOLMES dialogue.
Opener “Initial Meditation” immediately goes at it. Hard. And tense. It is a false trade description, nothing meditative about it. Not initially, middley or finally. It’s a metallic, sinusoidal, helicopter-bladed, rattlesnake throb of percussion and Moog that tees up an otherworldly Jeff Wayne foreboding that presses over and under the Spanish poet, Marcos de la Fuente’s wonderfully expressive voice.
“Plantains” is sometimes a matey, few-beers-in, chat between the fellas. But mostly it’s drums that cascade, chase and attack, attempting to demolish the hill from where a trumpet stoically, melodically, delivers its earnest, poetic message. The hillside may fragment, the hillside may crumble but the trumpet plays on.
“Pueblo” is gorgeous and uplifting. Sweet-sounding and love bringing. It’s a sultry, sensual, hip-rotating blend of trumpet, mejoranera and percussion; an adult’s urban Latin lullaby. Or as Navarro puts it: “Pueblo” is “a celebration of life, the coming together of the people, el pueblo, a celebration of who we are, where we come from, it’s our pueblo, our people, a feeling of openness, hope, and a future of unity from el pueblo, the people”
The free junglist pulse of “A Night In NY” initially speaks of the city’s energy and its comings and goings before Mother Humanity herself, the heart and soul of the community, Brigitte Zozula, reminds us of why we’re really all here. Tcheser Holmes is an absolute beast on this and throughout. “M.O.N.K (Most Only Never Knew)” is an unexpected, but glorious, closing-time-never, juke-jointy solo blues ramble by Nick Sanders on his appropriately upright piano.
The aptly named (no need for the TDA this time) “interlude interludio” is basically Navarro messing about on the Juno 106 and then shouting to Holmes “Ha. Listen! Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan. Right? Ha” It’s an audio amuse-bouche before the earnest, free-rolling meter that is “NAVARROHOLMES”. Damned right it’s one word. Damned right it’s in CAPITALS. Holmes takes no prisoners as he relentlessly plays cat and mouse with the Moog and Navarro’s light, impish, early 80’s computer game, single notes and detached melodies. It’s a thrilling duel as they predict each other’s next move.
“$$$ /// billete” is a bit of banter (featuring Carlos Garnett, no less), a tune-up and a tear up with cacophonous piano stabs and morse code percussion. “Father” starts with Holmes getting the deep fat fryer up to YEAH, THAT’S HOT temperature before creating a spiritual aisle for Sanders to elegantly Juno pad down. The fiercely electronic “Remix by Madam Data” is a distorted, pulsing, electrocuting, break beating climax.
This album has phenomenal energy. Its unspoken meters and overt rhythms constantly keep you on your toes. It grabs you and won’t accept anything other than your full-absorption in the stories it’s telling. And each track is choreographed and curated to make absolute narrative sense. Navarro and Holmes obviously get each other, get where each other come from and where they’re going to. They telepathically communicate in an intense and spirited shared voice.
So, NAVARROHOLMES. It’s one word, IN CAPITALS. And I hope to hear loads more from it (them)…in fact, I’m already looking forward to “Heritage of the Invisible X”.