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FRED MOTEN / BRANDON LOPEZ / GERALD CLEAVER - Moten / López / Cleaver LP

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Reading Group is thrilled to introduce the debut LP from a new improvising group of three singular artists: Fred Moten (voice), Brandon López (double bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums). López and Cleaver have been improvising together as a duo for a number of years, over which they’ve developed a secret, unspoken language of organically growing repetitive figures in a wide range of sonic palettes. López and Cleaver have long been recognized as some of the most vital voices in contemporary experimental improvised music, each with dozens of recordings and frequent performances in New York and abroad. They are joined here by Fred Moten, the inimitable poet, theorist, critic, and 2020 MacArthur Fellow. Moten’s presence, voicing poetry in an improvisatory syncopation with the instrumentalists, raises the music to third plane, putting the record in a broader collection of legendary spoken-word jazz records from Gil Scott-Heron and Amiri Baraka to the contemporary energies of Moor Mother and Irreversible Entanglements.

Recorded at GSI Studios in Manhattan at the height of the pandemic and in the immediate wake of the George Floyd Rebellion, this self-titled LP represents only the first time the trio had improvised together in a studio setting, after a one-off performance at the 2019 Vision Festival. The record is a shimmering image of the lightning that resulted in the meeting of these three minds. The dark timbres and churning pulses stay at a perpetually restrained simmer, only seldom disturbing the rolling surface of the record’s seven pieces. This constant interplay between the music’s turbulent growth and the momentary flashes of bright aliveness are reflected brilliantly in the original painting by artist/writer Renee Gladman that graces the record’s cover. A mysterious, vital work from three brilliant artists.