and improvising composer Odean Pope is certainly a player who has long been on the international stage; whether with his own
units or with the cooperative Catalyst and mentor Max Roach’s ensembles, Pope has been renowned for decades. In a sense,
his new recording, “Universal Sounds” presents a drum chorus in semi-counterpoint to Pope’s oft-recorded
Saxophone Choir, though one notices fractured differences as much as uniting sound-rhythms. The result of this expanded, cross-rhythmic
small group is an exploration of decidedly orchestral overtones, often with tense and incisive focus that gives this very
large-sounding ensemble a strong sense of forward motion. In addition to the presence of Marshall Allen on alto saxophone
and EWI, the group includes bassist Lee Smith and drummers Craig McIver, Jim Hamilton and Warren Smith.