Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Harriett Tubman

  • The Terror End of Beauty [Sunnyside, 2018] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Terror End of Beauty [Sunnyside, 2018]
Inexhaustible bassist Melvin Gibbs, the fulcrum of this long active, not much recorded trio, has been a jazz-rock rock since Sonny Sharrock schooled him and vice versa in the '80s. But this album is defined by guitarist Brandon Ross, who's not quite Sharrock but has every right to cite Jack Johnson/John McLaughlin-period Miles Davis as its model--more than he would, in fact, with the group's 2017 Araminta, which featured trumpet legend Wadada Leo Smith. The many highlights are all different--diddleybeat opener "Farther Unknown," rhythm-shifting "The Green Book Blues," dubwise-plus "Five Points," painfully distorted reading of "Redemption Song." Less galvanic than McLaughlin, Ross is richer and fuller to compensate, as on "3000 Worlds," which builds from the barely audible clatter of not actually random percussion to a stately and even leisurely guitar homily that's not so much driven as adorned by bass and drums laying down contrapuntal patterns of their own. A-