Outside the Comfort Zone
When I think of Houston, I don’t think of crusaders for peace and justice. The taint of Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and other politicians who seem set on turning America into a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom obscures the fact that there are folks in Texas who do believe in social justice. The musicians in Free Radicals have been mixing inventive jazz with dedication to social justice for over 20 years. Their first CD, The Rising Tide Sinks All was described a decade after it’s release as a premonition of the Iraq war. Their fourth CD, The Freedom Fence, brought up the folly of border walls while the Donald was still just a reality TV star. Outside the Comfort Zone takes on consumerism and white supremacy.
I don’t want to scare you off with all this political talk. It’s important to the band and I’m with them on these issues. The politics is limited to song titles and cover art. Free Radicals are an instrumental jazz band with a flair for dance grooves. The 23 tracks cover a lot of ground. “Doomsday Clock” sounds like the Skatalites throwing down for a night of heavy skanking. Along the way we’re treated to everything from second line street parades, to acid jazz melt downs to Latin jazz and everything in between. Free Radicals bring a lot of friends along for the ride and pay tribute to their jazz elders. To illustrate, they have former Benny Goodman vibraphonist Harry Sheppard helping out on some tracks. Damon Choice, who played vibes with the Sun Ra Arkestra, helps out on the Ra classic, “A Call to All Demons”. Free Radicals will keep you entertained in the streets or concert hall. Free Radical also continue the tradition of John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Max Roach, Charlie Haden and many others who made political statements through their jazz.