Ask the Ages

Ask the Ages

The last album Sonny Sharrock released before his premature death at 53, Ask the Ages feels like the culmination of the guitarist’s art, specifically his juxtaposition of opposing elements. Sharrock executes the perfect pairing of his fiery rock guitar and deep jazz composition, and his penchant for wild exorcism (“Once Upon a Time”) is tempered by a poignant lyricism on songs such as “Who Does She Hope To Be?” The band consists of John Coltrane’s legendary drummer Elvin Jones and his tenor apprentice Pharoah Sanders, while Charnett Moffett (son of free-jazz drummer Charles Moffett) forms a bridge to the younger generation. Even as Sharrock draws on the strength of the ‘60s with his band — Coltrane’s influence looms large over “Little Rock” and the devastating “Many Mansions”— his employment of forward-thinking producer Bill Laswell gives the album an audacious atmosphere that is anything but retrograde. As the siren cries of the final song ring out, “As We Used to Sing” forms a triumphant recessional not only for Ask the Ages, but for the entirety of Sharrock’s life and career.

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