“The Best Encapsulation of their sound might be expanded definition of “Americana” that swells beyond traditional country and folk musics to incorporate rock and jazz into it’s borders.” Shaun Brady (DownBeat Magazine)
“The beauty of Liberation Prophecy’s music is how cannily the band assimilates a wide range of influences and inspirations, absorbing them so deeply that the resultant music feels new. It’s akin to discovering something remarkable about someone you’ve known forever — the comfort of familiarity jolted by an electric shock.” -Jeffrey Lee Puckett (Courier-Journal)
Liberation Prophecy, Louisville, Kentucky’s indie jazz ambassadors have finally returned with a second album, Invisible House, and the news is all good. Saxophonist/composer Jacob Duncan’s astonishing ensemble has seen group members come and go since the band’s auspicious 2006 debut, Last Exit Angel, but the octet has congealed into a facile, intuitive unit that’s long on virtuosity and musical empathy. This time out, Duncan’s inspirations include Carla Bley, Tin Pan Alley songsmiths and even the Rolling Stones, and as always there’s a rare depth of expression—musically, lyrically, and spiritually. Composer Duncan’s collaborations with lyricists Will Oldham, Joe Manning, and Greta Smith are all unqualified successes. “You can hold music too tight, and I realized I needed to let go a little and not hold it so close to my chest,” Duncan admits. “So I got together with three songwriters who I respect as part of that letting-go process…it was beautiful and fascinating.”
Imminently listenable and inviting, yet never less than adventurous, Invisible House is a new direction for Duncan and Liberation Prophecy; compared to its predecessor, it’s less avant-garde and more song-oriented, personal and accessible. Guitarist Craig Wagner and trombonist Chris Fortner are band veterans, and they’re joined by bassist Chris Fitzgerald, drummer Michael Hyman, trumpeter Kris Eans and Steve Goode on tenor and bass clarinet. New singer Carly Johnson is a revelation—versatile, tuneful, and with an emotional range that floats from first-person intimate to brassy belting with the greatest of ease. “I think the whole of Invisible House is about the idea that you are where you are, the idea of being; not so much emphasis on what I’m doing, and more on how I’m being, you know?” Duncan suggests with a quiet laugh. Liberation Prophecy’s Invisible House is waiting for you—the key’s in the mailbox. Come on in.
Carly Johnson-Our Lady of Song
Jacob Duncan-composer/alto saxophone/clarinets/flute/Rhodes/vocals
Steve Good-tenor saxophone/bass clarinet/clarinet
Michael Hyman- drums
Chris Fitzgerald- double bass
From the quixotic toy piano opening of “Armed Ant War,” all the way to the final electric bass resolve of “Happiest Man,” the eight musical stories that compose Liberation Prophecy’s debut release, Last Exit Angel, represent a musical journey unlike any other in recent memory. Liberation Prophecy, the longtime musical lovechild of leader/saxophonist/composer Jacob Duncan, is a genre-confounding nine-piece band based in Louisville, Kentucky. With influences including, but not limited to, luminaries such as Sun Ra, Charles Mingus, Carla Bley, John Coltrane, Kurt Weill and Frank Zappa, Liberation Prophecy’s range is nothing short of astonishing, with open windows replacing any narrow sense of expected musical boundaries. Dysfunctional sambas collide with seasick circus waltzes, introspective ballads juxtapose with the primal exigency of the avant-garde, the gloom-laden asks the playfully comic for the next dance.
Last Exit Angel is an arrival, a coming-of-age premiere. From Liberation Prophecy’s modest Louisville origins in the 90’s, to its subsequent incarnation in Denton, Texas, (that lineup featuring Norah Jones on vocals) to a short-lived New York edition, and finally back to its Kentucky birthplace, Jacob Duncan’s vision for the project has never wavered, never been compromised. A list of the band’s current personnel reads like a Who’s Who of Louisville’s musical Big Dogs: bassist Sonny Stephens, drummer Jason Tiemann, guitarist Craig Wagner, pianist Todd Hildreth, Josh Toppass on bari sax, Chris Fortner on trombone, tenor saxophonist Aaron Kinman, and Amber Estes, vocals. Norah Jones rejoins the group for a riveting guest lead vocal performance on track 3. Challenging, adventurous, surprising, shapely and free, Liberation Prophecy’s Last Exit Angel is a work of brilliance, a genuine artistic statement that never relies on its considerable reserve of virtuosity to make its points: pure beauty, sincere expression, and as many question marks as answers.