Friday, August 10, 2012

Sonny Sharrock - Ask the Ages [1991]

Here's some real classic Sharrock skronk for those of you who were intrigued by the Space Ghost soundtrack.  

Ask the Ages is the last thing released while Sonny was alive. It's got all range of sounds and feelings, rooted in the jazz idiom but journeying far beyond it. The session here is totally stacked, with the masterful drumming of Elvin Jones, Pharaoh Sanders tearing up the sax parts and mind-expanding bass playing by Charnett Moffett. Sonny produced the disk with Bill Laswell, after that guy spent a decade recording the likes of Mick Jagger, PiL, Motörhead, The Ramones, Iggy Pop and Yoko Ono (thanks Wikipedia for that list of names). Anyway everyone on here is doing great things, and people who know this album could probably tell you better than me that this is something to be treasured.

The double bass particularly stands out to me every time I listen to this album, because the playing is so beyond perfect. Just listen to when the sound drops low on "Promises Kept," leaving the drums and bass to conjure up ancient magics out of the thin air of folk history. Equally so on the bass solos in "Who Does She Hope to Be," which might be my favorite song on the whole record.

There is such warmth in the chords of that ballad, and the way Sonny inflects songs with his singular blend of sorrowful jubilance affects my mood for the better in all circumstances. "Little Rock" shines with hope and optimism, and the chorus in "As We Used to Sing" sounds about as triumphant as I could imagine music being, as it slips seamlessly into the nine and a half minute tour de force of "Many Mansions," a space jam if I have ever heard one.

I'm probably belaboring the point, but this is one of my favorite albums of all time and I can guarantee you not a note is wasted during these 46 minutes.

Get a used CD copy of Ask the Ages (pretty expensive, though)

1 comment:

  1. Pharaoh Sanders keeps popping up wherever I look these days, and I can feel a minor obsession coming on, so thanks very much for this!