The new socialism

This album appears to have gotten most of its attention from the jazz press, which is great. More and more jazz writers are embracing a wider definition of the genre, and Free Radicals kind of explode genres generally. The band calls itself a "horn-driven instrumental dance band", and I think that's about as accurate as one might get.

Free Radicals
Outside the Comfort Zone

The rhythms come from everywhere: ska, klezmer, afro-caribbean, soca, whatever. Often, more than one tradition is blended into the attack. And make no mistake: Free Radicals are out for blood.

Blood in your shoes, the kind that flows from the blisters you get from dancing far too long. This album kicks off at high speed and proceeds to mash the pedal. About anything goes, as long as it fits into the maelstrom of dance-ready rhythms.

That the musicians see their art as activism makes literal sense. I haven't heard an album this active in ages. That's an easy laugh, but the commitment of the band to a polyphonic sound and its support of progressive (and even, well, radical) causes reinforce that point. Free Radicals have no problem with expression, despite the obvious lack of lyrics. Sometimes the best way to make a point is to use no words at all.

Jon Worley

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