March 2009 “Making Love to the Dark Ages

Well it’s d-day y’all as the Sugar drops it’s first all-studio release in five years on LiveWired/TruGROID. It doesn’t seem that long but that’s what happens with a band that has twenty-minute segues. In other words… time flies by when your making extended-jammy music. Ya heard!!

The reviews are starting to happen and we wanted to give you a taste of what the critics have to say. If you’re already a fan, we love you for it, if you are new to the sugar-express, hopefully these critical tidbits will whet your appetite, lead you to your favorite music retailer for a taste of the Arkestra Chamber.

On the live tip, it’s been a minute there too, so let’s get this party started at our next hit at the World Famous Blue Note in Manhattan ( 131 West 4th Street off of Sixth Avenue – for reservations call 212-475-8592 ) on March 27th for their Late Night Groove series. Cost is agreeable, and doors open at 11:30pm with showtime at 12:30am and believe me…. after a minute of silence Greg and the band will have plenty to say.

BlogCritics Online Magazine

Written by Richard Marcus
Published March 15, 2009

“Jazz and improvisation have gone together like bread and butter since the first player stepped out to blow a lead. There is something about the music that just lends itself to allowing musicians the freedom to explore all a piece of music has to offer. However, it’s jazz’s free-form nature which seems to have worked against its integration with orchestral works. Although modern composers have drawn upon many other elements of contemporary music and technologies, orchestral and jazz haven’t seemed to be able to find the comfort zone where they can blend easily…”
read the entire piece here


April, 200
by Bill Shoemaker

Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber
Making Love To The Dark Ages
***1/2 stars
Triangulating Afro-futurism and Butch Morris’ conduction cue lexicon is a heady proposition on paper, but Burnt Sugar’s ringleader Greg Tate’s approach yields fluid, funk-fortified music. While there are moments that flash with antecedents-
usually located somewhere in the mid- ’70s, but reaching occasionally as far back as the ’40s-Burnt Sugar has it’s own sound. there’s a cadre of horn players who cover the post-Ornette Coleman waterfront with ease ( including Matana Roberts and Avram Fefer ), rhythm sections who can lock into a groove but also suddenly pivot, and a sufficient array of textures ( some emanating from Tate’s laptop ) and searing walk-ons by Vijay Iyer and Vernon Reid that morph the ensemble sound from track to track.
Burnt Sugar is at it’s elastic best during extended work-outs like the second section of “Chains and Water,” “Thorazine/81” and the title piece. However some of the album’s high points occur in the more tightly scripted pieces like the first part of “Chains and Water,” a throbbing, harmonica-laced holler featuring Lisala, a compelling singer. But there are also a few miscues in the more structured passages. In the boppish tag that concludes “Chains And Water,” Lewis Barnes’ trumpet is fractured by a psychedelic mix. A synthesized ostinato threatens to stifle the album-ending title piece, but violinist Mazz Swift prevails with a synthesis of Leroy Jenkins and Papa John Creach, making a lasting impression.”

March 2009 issue of JazzTimes
Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber
Making Love to the Dark Ages
By Steve Greenlee
“Tate works with a huge array of musicians on Making Love to the Dark Ages, and he knows how to use them. Trumpeter Lewis “Flip” Barnes Jr. turns in a solo on “Chains and Water” that grows more and more discordant before the tune takes on a hip-hop bent that becomes an all-out jam in the long middle section—which, in turn, leads into a brief final section of Ellington-inspired swing. (Whew.)
More wildness ensues: The heavy romp of “Thorazine/81” teeters at the edge of chaos for much of its nine-and-a-half minutes, and an unusual cross of hip-hop and free-jazz-style soloing (from bass clarinet, no less) threatens to create a new species of music on “Love to Tical.” Then Tate goes further afield, using his laptop to create a rhythm of blips and beeps on the ballad “Dominata” and a backdrop of noises on the 18-minute title track. And what a tune: Mysterious, tense, and dramatic, it builds toward several highlights, including a fantastic solo from baritone saxophonist “Moist” Paula Henderson.”

Read the article here


March 2009 issue of JazzTimes
Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber: Paint the Sky Red
By Bill Milkowski
“On Making Love to the Dark Ages (LiveWired), the latest recording by Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, Tate wields a baton along with a laptop and occasionally his trusty guitar. The results range from his expansive meditation on slavery, “Chains and Water,” full of free-blowing conversations between the horns and soulful vocals supplied by dynamic singer Lisala, to the electric Miles-ish groover “Love to Tical,” to the dreamlike, ambient, Eno-meets-Teo soundscape “Dominata,” which incorporates his audacious laptop experiments, to an intriguing mashup of Tate’s funky “Thorazine” with the Ron Carter-Miles Davis composition “Eighty-One” (from E.S.P.).
Tate’s ensemble comprises such high-caliber players as keyboardist Vijay Iyer, bassist Jared Nickerson, trumpeter Lewis “Flip” Barnes, alto saxophonists Matana Roberts and Avram Fefer, baritone saxophonist Paula Henderson, guitarists Ben Tyree and Rene Akan and vocalists Lisala, Karma Johnson, Abby Dobson and Justice Dilla X. Special guest guitarist Vernon Reid explodes with ferocious metal-esque abandon on “Love to Tical.” Says Tate of the Living Colour founder, “Vernon’s like a damn Ferrari, man! He can start where most guitar players climax, and then he keeps on taking it out from there. In the midst of an improv piece you just call on Vernon and … bam! He’s setting land speed records.”
read the article here