Majid Khaliq: The Basilisk (2011)
Majid Khaliq's violin is so closely linked with the human experience that he seems to breathe through it and, in doing so, creates a unique voice that is both profane and spiritual. From his worldly, profane dimension comes the earthy expression of the blues. Here, Khaliq can be tender, almost sensual and caressing as he gives voice to the raw and gut-wrenching experience that are then entwined with the music that is created with dynamic tension turning the ugly side of human drama into a thing of beauty. This dimension of his playing is demonstrated by his expert handling of these paradigms on "Expectation" and on the remarkable ululations of "The Basilisk."
Khaliq's is a singular voice, steeped in the history of his music. Stuff Smith flows through him, as does Don "Sugar Cane" Harris and those who went before. But Khaliq is unique in voice and vocalization. He has masterly control over his touch and expression; he can wail and bellow within a single swing of the bow; and his lines are always fanciful, full of twists and turns that reveal new ideas at surprising points in time.
And this is what makes the other, spiritual dimension to his music so uplifting. When Khaliq approaches the metaphysical, as he does in "Mansa Khan Musa," "Inner Glimpse" or "The Truth," he turns his own musical explorations inwards, eschewing drama and relying, instead, on shorter, brooding phrases that rise and fall with the proverbial breath of lifeso close to the heartbeat that they seem to pronounce the music in the name of Divinity itself. All this comes together in his absolutely masterpiece version of "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," which is both visceral and sophisticated, and touches the very soul with its elemental yearning.
Khaliq is brilliantly supported by his band, but his soul mate remains trumpeter Charlie Porter, who plays brilliantly throughout, offering a perfect foil and holding up a mirror for the rare and all pervasive genius of Majid Khaliq.
Track Listing: The Basilisk; Expectation; O-Hime; Mansa Khan Musa; Inner Glimpse; Spirals; The Truth; Polka Dots and Moonbeams.
Personnel: Majid Khaliq: violin; Charles Porter: trumpet; Jeb Patton: piano (3, 5--8); Eric "ELEW" Lewis: piano (1, 2, 4); Ivan Taylor: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced