Who Sent You? (International Anthem)

Irreversible Entanglements

Released September 26, 2020

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2020






For Akaila.

Irreversible Entanglements are a liberation-oriented free jazz collective formed in early 2015 by saxophonist Keir Neuringer, poet Camae Ayewa (a.k.a. Moor Mother) and bassist Luke Stewart, who came together to perform at a Musicians Against Police Brutality event organized after the slaying of Akai Gurley by the NYPD. Months later the group added trumpeter Aquiles Navarro and drummer Tcheser Holmes (a duo who also performed at the MAPB event) for a single day of recording at Seizure’s Palace in Brooklyn, and the full quintet’s first time playing together was captured for this debut. In four relentless bouts of inspired fire music the instrumentalists explore and elaborate compositional ideas drawn from their deep individual studies of free jazz improvisation, but the tone of each piece is driven decisively by Ayewa’s searing poetic narrations of Black trauma, survival and power. The message is the undeniable essence of the music. Though free jazz with voice is an uncommon approach in the modern day landscape of the genre, the spirit and subject the band channels and explores represent a return to a central tenant of the sound as it was founded – to be a vehicle for Black liberation. As creative and adventurous as any recording of contemporary avant-garde jazz but offering listeners no abstractions to hide behind, this is music that both honors and defies tradition, speaking to the present while insisting on the future.
Irreversible Entanglements is the first collaborative split release by International Anthem & Don Giovanni Records, a partnership aimed to amplify this potent music and pertinent message to the widest possible audience. 

Track Listing:

1. The Code Noir/Amina (Camae Ayewa / Tcheser Holmes / Aquiles Navarro / Keir Neuringer / Luke Stewart) 07:30

2. Who Sent You – Ritual (Camae Ayewa / Tcheser Holmes / Aquiles Navarro / Keir Neuringer / Luke Stewart) 14:45

3. No Más (Camae Ayewa / Aquiles Navarro) 07:58

4. Blues Ideology (Camae Ayewa / Tcheser Holmes / Aquiles Navarro / Keir Neuringer / Luke Stewart) 08:22

5. Bread Out of Stone (Camae Ayewa / Tcheser Holmes / Aquiles Navarro / Keir Neuringer / Luke Stewart) 04:48


Camae Ayewa: voice
Keir Neuringer: alto saxophone
Aquiles Navarro: trumpet
Luke Stewart: double bass
Tcheser Holmes: drums

Recorded August 26, 2015 at Seizure’s Palace, Brooklyn, New York
Engineered by Jason LaFarge
Mixed by David Allen
Mastered by Helge Sten
Art by Damon Locks
Layout by Craig Hansen
Produced by Keir Neuringer


“This one’s for Akai Gurley,” declares Camae Ayewa from the center of a tornadic disturbance caused by one-off collaborators turned bandmates Tcheser Holmes (drums), Luke Stewart (double bass), Aquiles Navarro (trumpet), and Keir Neuringer (saxophone). In referencing the tragedy that prompted the Musicians Against Police Brutality event that begat Irreversible Entanglements — after a thunderous sequence filled with caustic and terrified remarks directed at an occupying force — the poet supreme continues to link the recent past to the present, or what she identified on the group’s first album as “trauma looping.” It’s no coincidence that the instrumentalists throughout Who Sent You? keep building on a previous generation’s free jazz — more specifically the fire music, to use Archie Shepp’s terminology — made in response to similar displays of corrupt power. Unlike Shepp, Irreversible Entanglements don’t recast standards and bossa nova hits. There’s no time for that. Following a mournful, simmering intro in the opening “The Code Noir/Amina,” Ayewa sternly repeats “every nine seconds,” the time separating one incident of domestic abuse from the next, demanding an answer to “At what point do we give a shit?” The Pope gets his in “Blues Ideology,” with Holmes’ hard pulsing keeping the purposefully wayward players, mimicking the pontiff’s drunken shuffle observed by Aweya, from veering completely off course. Not all is fury and scorn. Presumably inspired by Dionne Brand’s book of the same title, the concluding “Bread Out of Stone” is calm and meditative, if by no measure escapist. Above all, at the start of side two, is “No Más.” Holmes and Stewart get into an intricately knotted funk groove, composer Navarro and Neuringer buzz and beam with a shared sense of liberation, and Ayewa speaks of “Infinite possibilities coming back around — I know we are more than circles.” It’s uplifting, even life-affirming.

Andy Kellman (AllMusic)