The 360-Degree Music Experience, a quintet under the nominal leadership of drummer-percussionist Beaver Harris, presented a program at d.c. space last night that was both a reflection of the jazz tradition and a catalogue of the new sounds.
On their opening number, "The Land of the Pharoahs," a feverish tempo was immediately and explosively established. A barrage from Harris, the relentless pulse of bassist Cameron Brown, and the percussive nudging of painist Don Pullen fired the "free" explorations of reed players Ken McIntyre and Ricky Ford.
Four of these musicians were pioneers of free jazz in the early 1960s. Ford, the youngest, came up in the decade and was with Mingus at the end. Associations of the others include Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Archie Shepp.
While all the details and nuances of the avant garde in jazz have not always survived, it is useful to recognize that its substance has inevitably come to reside in the "mainstream." The intensity, passion, and revitalization of the tradition that is characteristic of the 360-Degree Music Experience will likely be a major component of the sound of the '80s. The group will present its multi-layered instantaneous compostion again tonight at d.c. space.