Isaiah Collier and The Chosen Few’s The Unapologetic Negro is an incredibly powerful document; a declaration of intent and announcement that if you weren’t already paying attention, it was damn past time to change that. Collier made The Unapolgetic Negro when was only 21. It is such a mature, forward-thinking and timeless album that I couldn’t wait to see and hear what he would do next.
Enter Cosmic Transitions and the stars go supernova. Collier and The Chosen Few – Michael Shekwoaga Ode on drums, Jeremiah Hunt on bass, and Mike King on piano – throwdown a sonic transmission for all times. Throughout this five-part suite, the quartet takes flight from a blues foundation and soars over hard bop zones into a freer, boundaryless space.
Recorded at the legendary Van Gelder Studios, the opening salvos of “Invocation” and “Part I: Forgiveness,” settle straight into a chaotic, raucous jam. Collier announces his intent straight away, blowing the roof to shreds while King eventually goes spectral in the latter moments of “Part I: Forgiveness,” running up and down the keyboard like a man on fire. It’s hard not to hear echoes of A Love Supreme when Collier shifts gears on “Part II: Humility,” careening through a rippling solo, parting the sonic seas with deeply moving, fire breathing precision. Make no mistake, though, this isn’t some kind of imitation. Nothing of the sort. Collier and crew take familiar, legendary ideas and breathe new life into them, imbuing them with a modern, even futuristic, bend. This recording was made in September of last year and you can feel the hell from the preceding months get crushed into aural diamonds. It’s the heaviest type of catharsis, those moments you’ll feel forever.
Each time the closing, clattering scramble of the mind-blowing closer, “Part V: Mercury’s Retrograde,” crashes back down to earth, I find myself in total awe. Cosmic Transitions is an open invitation to jump on this journey and hold on, white knuckled until the end. Isaiah Collier is a force of nature and, at only 23, is barely getting started. His compositions and prodigal saxophone howling is not just of a previous era, it’s of every era. He makes music that refuses to stick in one time or place and instead holds the past and future in equal balance in the bell of his saxophone, once again blowing it out and scattering it into the stars. Cosmic Transitions is the realest deal around.