Medium Rotation — Anarchist Gospel; Eye of I

SUNNY WAR Anarchist Gospel (New West) — Sunny War was based in Los Angeles for several years, but she was born in Nashville and spent many of her formative years in that storied music city. Not so long ago, she took a lease’s end date as impetus for a sort of homecoming. Her new album, Anarchist Gospel, indicates the sonics of her native local came charging back to her, too. Aligned with Adia Victoria‘s uncompromising and scintillating reclamation of American roots music, War’s album is a manifesto of ownership. She deserves to work with these southern sounds, the Delta blues and the mountain country, as much as anyone else, and she is a forceful presence as she does so, with the grinding, glorious album opener “Love’s Death Bed” merely the opening shot. War assembles a hearty crew of like-minded cohorts, including Allison Russell, Chris Pierce, and David Rawlings, but there’s no doubt that she’s the leader here, delivering each song with a resonant purity. Without letting up on the tautness of the material, War sounds relaxed throughout. It’s especially noticeable when the easy confidence of her vocal delivery taps against the whirring grindstone of the music, as with the lean and wiry guitar parts on “I Got No Fight.” On “His Love,” War is so cool that it’s almost like Luna when they put up a bit of a country vibe. The anarchist is in complete and total control. In addition to those already mentioned, sing the praises of the following cuts: “No Reason,” “Swear to Gawd,” “Earth” (with Jim James pitching in), “Hopeless,” and “Whole.”

JAMES BRANDON LEWIS Eye of I (Anti-) — After a well-stocked record shelf’s worth of increasingly well-regarded releases, tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis makes his Anti- debut with an album that’s sure to put a little more shine on his brass. Eye of I is less revolutionary than expert. Leading a combo comprised of Gerald Cleaver on drums, William Parker on bass, and Matthew Shipp on piano, Lewis renders jazz with vitality and rigor. The craft of all the players is evident in their mournful take on Donny Hathaway’s “Somebody We’ll All Be Free” and the classic bebop styling of “Within You Are Answers.” Even when the group saunters over to the edge of more dangerous fare — the foreboding title cut, the main impression is that the hand guiding the journey is as steady as a resting pulse. Without showboating, Lewis proves to be a consistently marvelous player, opening up the songs with his exploratory playing. He shapes the experience from the inside, expanding the tunes fruitfully and with unbothered force. This is jazz with insight and shorn of indulgence. Feast your ears on “The Blues Still Blossoms,” his take on Cecil Taylor’s “Womb Water,” “Sent Seraphic Beings,” and the short experiments “Foreground” and “Background.”

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