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Salem Washington: Reviews

By Siddhartha Mitter, Globe Correspondent, Boston Globe (May 6, 2007)

Bostonians may remember multi-reedman Salim Washington for his leadership in the 1990s of an esteemed, inspired local ensemble called the Roxbury Blues Aesthetic. Their sole, and superb, recording, 1997's "Love in Exile," was a powerful statement of jazz in the post-Coltrane tradition, steeped in the legacy of the Black Arts movement while wearing its agenda lightly. The same bittersweet brew of urban exhilaration and melancholy pervades the work of Washington's new venture, the Harlem Arts Ensemble, and for good reason: After many years in Boston, Washington now teaches at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and his key Roxbury associates have moved their operations, at least part of the time, to the Big Apple with him. They include four of the most distinct and exciting voices on their instruments, Kuumba Frank Lacy (trombone), Waldron Ricks (trumpet), Melanie Dyer (viola), and Kurtis River (reeds); nine other players round out the assembly, putting the Harlem Arts Ensemble into the middle ground of a "mini-big band" that is not always easy to hold together, businesswise or artistically.

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