Reviews -HNA

Author: Trevor Tremaine
Source: Glamor Profession
Link to this article

The occasional inspired detours aside, the venerable Detroit-area indie rock institution His Name is Alive are more commonly heralded for their playfully experimental, soulful dream pop. Taking heed, I presumed the “tribute” of the disc’s title to be of a more abstract nature, Marion Brown being the miraculous, under-sung free jazz saxophonist whose sides for ESP and Impulse! hold some of the most exploratory, expansive large ensemble improv since the most definitive dates of Ornette, Shepp, and Coltrane (whose Ascension features Brown’s visionary playing). Instead, to my profound perplexity and delight, this set could not be more reverent. HNIA chief Warn Defever rounded up members of Ann Arbor-based unit NOMO to tackle a number of Brown’s compositions (apparently with his blessing, judging from the sticker on the case: “It’s beautiful, thank you. You really understand me.”) in a joyous style that captures the spirit of late-60s free music without ever impinging on sentimentality, and the swirly, reverb-laden dueling Rhodes pianos and ecstatic lead electric betrays the namesake’s psychedelic roots. Every track is a killer, alternating between dense, moody soundscapes á la Alice Coltrane, and swinging, energetic grooves reminiscent of Joe McPhee’s Nation Time.

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