Odean Pope offers a new full length “Universal Sounds” with Porter Records
Odean Pope is a Philadelphia based multi-instrumentalist who is best know for his work with Max Roach from 1979-2002. Odean Pope has an immediately recognizable style that he has molded into shape and form over the past 40 years. His multi-color tenor and at times aggressive saxophone phrasing utilizes a system called multiphonics. Add this with the glistening and prideful representation of the human voice with the tenor, you have a formula for a musician who is expressing something a lot deeper than just scales or notes. With the rich cultural diversity of his Southern Baptist Church Baptist upbringing, parents with great passion and dedication to music and the sprawling level of innovation occurring in Philadelphia during the 30′s and on, Odean Pope soaked all of this influence up and embedded it into the trail of recordings he has left behind so far. Odean Pope was the man who John Coltrane had replace him in Jimmy Smith’s group when Coltrane left to New York to join Miles Davis and for good reason. His legacy extends to all corners of what Rahsaan Roland Kirk refered to as black classical music.
After a lifetimes worth of work, time and dedication to the jazz world, Odean Pope has released Universal Sounds, another beautiful contribution to the arts to further include into the catalogue around Odean Pope. Universal Sounds is a 55 minute window of worldly communication in sound in the spectrum of free jazz. Odean Pope brought in the talents of Sun Ra Arkestra leader and alto sax player Marshal Allen for this session as it was important for Odean to create with this master in sound. Improvisation set around the concepts and composition from Odean creates a large body of musical worlds in Universal Sounds. Marshall Allen utilizes his EMI(Electronic Wind Instrument) in full stride on the composition “The Track” and the piece stretches into the full realm of cosmic jazz excursions and voyages of the fullest tonal scope. Chicago percussionist Warren Smith who is also a world renowned musician and is also associated with Max Roach is on this session and provides a lot of color into the sound with his large collection of pieces he uses.
Universal Sounds was released by Porter Records this year and includes the talents of label owner Luke Mosling on two of the pieces, “Custody Of The American Spirit” and Custody Of The American (Bullshit Version). With synthesizer treatment added and vocals added, Luke Mosling makes this recording even more of an anamoly in sound. This album is very percussion driven, with a large emphasis on improvisation and language through sound. The first piece “Custody of the American Spirit” portrays a bleak picture of what is occurring to just that, the American Spirit. Death on the rise and so many more ills, once the bass starts bubbling up and the drums become penetrating, you start to feel the anger and disappointment in how society has evolved. Rapid fire free falling drumming leaves particles of emotions scattered everywhere. Once Odean Pope comes in and speaks his first line on the tenor, the emotional weight comes to a full circle and the track suddenly ends. The second piece “Mwalimu” starts off with a very different approach with the group stating a very tight and rhythmic statement that crashes into the stand up bass providing a lot of the voice.
This album really lets everyone in the group speak their mind, something that can be lost in music with structure and format that leaves out this type of natural language in music. Universal Sounds is a gift of improvisational music made inside of a community that has been going strong since the late 50′s. Universal Sounds is at times frantic, train derailed power scales of emotion along with the most somber and beautiful reflections of community and the lands they have inhabited. Vibration music with the heaviest emphasis on communication in sound and the spiritual love of creation. Porter Records is one of our favorite labels and did a beautiful job with the package layout and sound for this full length, definitely check Universal Sounds out if you are into John Coltrane, Max Roach, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, Eric Dolphy and the other great free jazz players of the past and present. We also recommend you check out Odean Pope’s Philadelphia group Catalyst also released with Porter Records. -Erik Otis
1 Custody Of The American Spirit
3 The Binder
4 She Smiled Again
5 Go Figure
6 The Track
8 Custody Of The American (Bullshit Version)
Order this album HERE
We conducted a small interview with Odean Pope about this release to include with our review, enjoy.
Your newest record with Porter Records has Sun Ra Arkestra saxophonist and leader Marshal Allen. How did you link with him for this album and what type of vision and presence did he bring to the album?
Odean Pope: Mr. Marshall Belford Allen, I’ve known for many years, and I think he’s a very talented artist. I thought it was very important that we document some music together at some point. What type of vision and presence did Mr. Allen bring to the CD. Mr. Allen arrived with an extraordinary vision for my music.
Have you had the chance to tour much for this album and how have the shows been so far?
Odean Pope: We’ve had some gigs and the response has been tremendous. We’re booked to do the Chicago Jazz Festival, and we’re looking forward to it.
Where was Universal Sounds recorded at and what type of musical direction took place for the 6 compositions you wrote yourself and the one you wrote with Luke Mosling, owner of Porter Records?
Odean Pope: Universal Sounds was recorded at Jim Hamilton’s Studio in Philadelphia, PA. What type of musical direction took place for the compositions. I gave them the music and we talked and played. I only asked for one concept and that was bring some ideas to all of the compositions.
There is a vast language spoken in the realm of improvisation, what type of energy came through during the recordings as improvisation took place over the compositions set forth prior to recording?
Odean Pope: The language spoken in the improvisation concepts were different each time we played the same composition and that was the Idea and concept.
What type of tenor sax do you play with?
Odean Pope: I play a Selmer Mark (6) (6300)
What type of origin’s of sound from around the world does your music pull from?
Odean Pope: Origin’s of my sounds are from the Bapitist Church.
Where do you see Universal Sounds in context of your recorded output?
Odean Pope: Where do I see Universal Sounds in context of my recorded output. Universal Sounds is very special to me because all of the musicians brought something special to the table.