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Gerald Cleaver’s Uncle June Ensemble

Be It As I See It

(Fresh Sound New Talent; US: 25 Jan 2011; UK: 9 Nov 2010)

Gerald Cleaver is an unstoppable modern drummer. Name it and he’ll do it. Keep time with Joe Morris, Roscoe Mitchell, and David Torn? No problem. Front three bands with three different styles? Easy. So with his Uncle June ensemble, he casts his blanket wide and tries to do it all in just one album. The fact that Be It As I See It is so absurdly all over the place is one of its defining characteristics. It gets off to a crazy Beefheart-y start with “To Love”, but then moves to tranquil waters with a flute-carried “Charles Street Sunrise”. His extended suite “Fence & Post” becomes even more abstract as the gargling noises of “The Lights” offset the harmonically off-kilter ballad “Alluvia”. Okay, so just what in the hell is going on with Cleaver’s band and this CD? It’s tough to say without reading about any of its background, but Be It As I See It proves that mixed bags don’t always lead to dodgy results. In fact, they can be subtly exceptional.

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