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Sticks and Stones
Philadelphia City Paper
A.D. Amorosi

As improvisational masters, their pedigree is untouchable. Chicago trio Sticks and Stones has spent five years as house band for the free mecca that is Sunday night at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge. Separately, they've got their own roosts to rule, what with Boston Microtonal Collective founder/alto saxophonist Matana Roberts having worked with Steve Lacy and Ravi Coltrane, as well as plotting her own solo CD, due in April. Bassist Joshua Abrams is known for his avant enterprises with alternatypes Brokeback, Town and Country and Sam Prekop. And skittering drummer Chad Taylor is half of Chicago Underground Duo, not to mention a known collaborator with William Parker, Malachi Favors and Roscoe Mitchell. For all that fire, Sticks and Stones (482 Music) is a slow, smokey work of blissful oozy melodies, slurry sonic sax-palpatations and thunderous rhythms -- all cooing and wooing in a mellow tone that conjures up classic influences while acting iconoclastically. By covering Lee "Scratch" Perry's moody paean "Sons of Slaves" in watery, wifty but pretty dub fashion, Sticks and Stones subtly attempts to unite all forms of black music under its own banner in its own time. Magnificent.

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