Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light – an affecting album for complex times

Angry, hopeful and celebratory, the free jazz and spoken word quintet have become more considered without losing their bite

This East Coast quintet have blazed a fearsome trail across three albums for Chicago indie International Anthem, combining free jazz, spoken word and political protest (they first met at a rally against police brutality). A move to a mainstream major, Impulse!, and a stay at the hallowed Rudy Van Gelder studio have brought a more considered, accessible approach, and the music is all the better for it.

Not that the group have lost their bite – the seven and a half minutes of Soundness remain a frenetic squealathon in which the words of poet Camae Ayewa (aka Moor Mother) are lost in the storm. More affecting – less sound, less fury – are cuts like Our Land Back, where Ayewa testifies on behalf of the dispossessed in Palestine, Iraq and South Carolina. The trumpet of Aquiles Navarro and the sax of Keir Neuringer remain a formidable presence, whether in unison on sonorous fanfares or trading licks on Root <=> Branch.

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