Liberation Prophecy

Liberation Prophecy


With influences including, but not limited to, luminaries such as Sun Ra, Charles Mingus, Carla Bley, John Coltrane, Kurt Weill and Frank Zappa, the gloom-laden asks the playfully comic for the next dance.


It began in a real free-spirited kind of way, so it was really about the idea that we were going to free ourselves, and that was the prophecy", Jacob Duncan recalls with a laugh. "We were going to free ourselves through making music, you know?" Duncan, Liberation Prophecy's leader, composer, arranger and alto saxophonist has been doing exactly that since 1995, when the band's initial incarnation surfaced as a quartet in the back room of a coffee house in his native Louisville, Kentucky. Since its intriguing, experimental genesis, Duncan has taken the gospel of his Liberation Prophecy with him to ports of call around the country, assembling questing, like-minded musicians in Denton, Texas and New York City. Now back in Louisville, the latest edition of the band has evolved into a nine-piece cataclysmic ensemble capable of astonishing power, beauty, inventiveness and precision, as well as the occasional flight of inspired anarchy. Eleven restless years in the making, now is the time of the season for Liberation Prophecy and its debut release, Last Exit Angel.

While the sound of Liberation Prophecy may bear trace elements of early Carla Bley, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Keith Jarrett's European quartet with Jan Garbarek, Sun Ra and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the range of influences that color Jacob Duncan's musical thinking isn't limited to the world of jazz; he's also quick to cite the work of Frank Zappa, songwriters Randy Newman and Tom Waits, singers Patsy Cline and Peggy Lee, woodcut novelist Frans Masereel, and the fiction of Kerouac, Salinger, and Hubert Selby, Jr. Despite such a heady brew of inspirations, and the possibility-rich instrumentation of piano, Hammond organ, accordion, electric or acoustic bass, drum set, guitar, baritone sax, trombone, tenor sax, clarinet, alto sax, flute, and vocals, the music of Liberation Prophecy remains inviting, playful, immediate and genuinely original.

One facet of the group's accessibility is the distinct downplaying of its members' virtuosity; although they're each endowed with monstrous chops, there's never any question that the demands of the material will take precedence over individual egos, the song is always right. Another key ingredient is the utilization of the human voice. Amber Estes, the latest vocalist, is a real find, a gifted singer who sells the tune with a purity that never relies on affectation. She has the unenviable role of replacing Norah Jones, who was undiscovered at the time she lent her talents to the Liberation line-up in both its Denton and New York chapters; she returns to guest on "Lonely Lament", one of the CD's highlights.

Leader Jacob Duncan's musical path has been a fascinating one, consistently balancing a spiritual, intuitive inclination with a keen, educated intelligence; his ensemble playing is every bit as assured and sympathetic as his soloing is consistently risking and rewarding. Beginning on the alto sax at the age of eleven, he soon distinguished himself as the kid who could play. He graduated from the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, played lead alto in the Yamaha Big Band while in high school, and won a music scholarship to the University of North Texas in Denton, where he was a member of the world-renowned One O'Clock Lab Band.

After graduation, Duncan flew to Lisbon on a one-way ticket with alto in tow, five hundred dollars, and very little else. Playing on street corners, French jazz clubs, hanging with musicians, hitchhiking or enjoying a peripatetic existence based upon the proverbial "kindness of strangers," he survived and thrived in Europe for eight months. On returning to the States, the siren call of New York got the better of him and he settled there for a time; a day gig at a coffee house kept him afloat while he played countless sessions, gigged endlessly at Nimrod's and the Knitting Factory, and reassembled Liberation Prophecy as a sextet. Eventually frustrated by stress, rehearsal conflicts, Norah Jones' departure and a consistent diet of Ramen noodles, a cruise ship tour of duty seemed like a solution.

Now back on dry land in Kentucky, Duncan's devoted his musical energies to Liberation Prophecy, prioritizing the recording and release of their Last Exit Angel (Basement Front Records). With its line-up of Louisville's most forward-thinking musicians, consistent for the past two years, the CD is an arrival of no small significance. Duncan, who wrote the music and lyrics and arranged all eight pieces on the disc, refers to them as stories, rather than songs. "It's actually like a story of a person throughout the eight songs," he explains. "It's me, on some level. When I put together the programming of the album, I had an idea that it was really a development, a coming of age&each of the eight stories is a different part of the journey."

From the full-frontal avant-eclecticism of "Armed Ant War" to the dysfunctional samba and woozy circus waltzing of the existential cris


Last Exit Angel

Set List

Whatever the gig calls for, we do it.