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Greg Fox's 'By Virtue Of Emptiness' Is A Rapt Mosaic Of Psychedelic Jazz


A still from Greg Fox's "By Virtue of Emptiness" video.

A still from Greg Fox's "By Virtue of Emptiness" video.

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There’s a stunning piece of music by the composer Rhys Chatham called An Angel Moves Too Fast To See, a title that evokes beautiful wings beating at supersonic speed. This image is the way I like to think not only about Greg Fox’s drumming but also the way he approaches music, as a celestial hummingbird feeding from the nectar of the cosmos.

Fox’s wide-ranging credits support this idea, from the ecstatic blast-beats heard in Liturgy and the shamanic rolls of Guardian Alien to the densely convulsing trio Zs and heavy swinging doom of Ex Eye, led by saxophonist Colin Stetson. Fox fits into all of these pockets with ease, his meditative control of the instrument a balm in the bedlam.

“By Virtue Of Emptiness” comes from The Gradual Progression, the second solo album by Greg Fox. Where his debut experimented with the response of custom electronics to Fox’s drumming, here the part becomes the whole. His graceful blasts and sky-crashed reverberations still trigger electronic gurgles and squiggles, but Fox folds in outside players to a rapt mosaic.

Maria Kim Grand (tenor sax) and Michael Beharie (nylon guitar) guest on this track, and feature in the video directed by Johann Rashid, cutting from performance shots on a rooftop to footage that Fox has assembled himself. You could call it psychedelic jazz stemming from the Don Cherry stream of all-over consciousness, or you could just fall into its beating wings — too fast to see.

The Gradual Progression is out now via RVNG Intl.

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