The Bottom by Luke Stewart Silt TrioRelease date: January 22, 2022
Label: Cuneiform Records
Jazz music has always grabbed people’s attention. Some like it, some don’t. But gives listeners a real understanding on why it keeps those fresh waters flowing through the Atlantic. Coming from the DC / NYC area, is one of the founders of the Exposure quintet named Luke Stewart. And he is no fluke.
He has been in the music scene for two decades as a composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist. And Luke has worked with bands and artists such as; Daniel Carter, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, post-punk group Priests, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.
Given his background of improvisational presentations and performing at principal venues throughout Washington D.C., the Big Apple, and various places throughout the world, Stewart brings the attitude of the genre with a Punk perspective on the Cuneiform label with the Silt Trio entitled, The Bottom.
The album itself is inviting listeners to Luke’s insane party until the crack of dawn. He brings them to his new location by diving down in the cool salty waters and lets them see what kind of treasures that are hidden underneath the rocks. With tenor saxophonist Brian Settles and percussionist, drummer Chad Taylor to the forefront, it is a substantial release.
The six compositions recorded at Luke’s residence, the Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, and mastered by Ian Beabout at his ShedSoundRecordings studio, it is like a strong tornado coming at you in a split second. ‘Reminiscence’ opens the album up with Taylor channeling Crimson alumni Jamie Muir from the Larks’ Tongues-era, playing the mriba, the thumb piano from Zimbabwe.
He and Stewart walk into this beautiful melody in the traditional culture from Shona. Then, everything starts transforming into a swinging motif in Harlem throughout the late ‘20s, early ‘30s of audiences hitting the dance floor, doing the jitterbug in the styles of ‘Roots’ while the 11-minute ‘Angles’ crosses over between David Bedford, Keith Tippett’s Centipede, and Archie Shepp.
When I think of the minimal arrangements that is on here, I think of the music from the French label, BYG Records, and Eichner’s ECM catalog. Not only that it’s quite startling, but the way the trio have a full amount of free rein, looking at each other to give signals the way that Stewart, Taylor, and Settles are like racing towards the finish line.
You never know what would happen on the composition, but once the title-track appears like a wild tiger eating a piece of fresh meat, Luke takes the stage by lending the other two, a walk into Leonard Bernstein’s territory by channeling a ballet-dance that is odd, weird, but out of this world from the avant-garde scene.
Walking through the rubble after the riot that happened two years ago, the three-piece bring this warm signal of peace throughout the New York area as they close down a section across 42nd street with Settles going in for the kill on his exercise for the ‘Circles’ to be completed. He and Taylor go on a wild spree between their manic improvisations and hammer down the thunder before ending on this cliffhanger ballad to be in their ‘Dream House’ after a long exhausted night whilst the trio return to their homes and have a good night’s rest for a job well done.
The Bottom is a challenging release that Cuneiform has unleashed this year. Luke has come a long way to give the pandemic and dare I say Kanye West, a giant kick in their family jewels like there’s no tomorrow. And he lets listeners enjoy those visionary pictures that have been opened up to reveal a strong sense of power.