The Equity & Social Justice Quartet is all about the conversation. Each instrumentalist speaks and listens with equal parts attention and eagerness. The careful construction of dissonance and harmony projects the realities of social dialogue. Sometimes we’re on the same page; sometimes we’re not. What’s most important is that we keep talking, a vision that drives the music and the more important issues of equity and social justice that inspire it.
“Duos” is an interesting picture of group fracturing. The quartet divides into (duh) duos. We get frenetic and percussive tenor sax talking with thoughtful alto sax. Throughout the conversation, the saxophones start to barrow from each other. They seem to reach an understanding. The discussion leads to a mutual exchange of style and ultimately a union before switching to a conversation between drums and tenor sax. More a saxophone and less a drum, the tenor sax speaks and passes the microphone to the double bass, where a light affair turns dark. Cymbals splash over the top, and the low end carries the tune to a near dissolve before the alto sax picks up where the drums left off. Again, the alto brings something more thoughtful and less destructive or headstrong. Finally, the two saxophones reunite for a complicated outro that leaves as much to wonder about as was discovered in the conversation. The
The quartet also plays with the idea of conversations in “There is an Egg” and “Which Came First.” Clearly one title is a response to the other, but in listening, the tracks are not that dissimilar. In fact, for something really fun, play both of them at the exact same time. Trust me. There are more apparent differences though. For instance, “Which Came First” starts with solo double bass, while “There is an Egg” brings in the whole crew all at once. Also, “There is an Egg” comes to a self-aware moment where it is almost getting carried away and comes to a screeching slow down before refocusing. This pair of tracks can be listened to three ways, one and then the other, vice versa, or both at the same time—do them all because The Equity & Social Justice Quartet leaves plenty of room for play.