It is the late 1970s and recently politicized filmmaker and musician Ed Montgomery makes his way from San Francisco to New York City. His thought is to find like-minded musicians in order to create a politically-infused, free jazz-inspired performance ensemble. He starts playing in Latin groups and takes part in jam sessions at Bobo Shaw’s LaMama space. He finally assembles a group of musicians and starts making some seriously funky and far-out music.
In 1979, Montgomery meets Robbie McCauley, an actor and writer (she’d later win an OBIE for her work), who proved to be the perfect partner/lyricist/singer for what became the Sedition Ensemble. But McCauley wasn’t the only major talents in the group. Bern Nix of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time and the Contortions played guitar. Melvin Gibbs of Defunkt, the Decoding Society, and later the Rollins Band was on bass. Ben Bierman played horns with Johnny Pacheco, Larry Harlow, Hector Lavoe and other Latin greats. Bob De Meo drummed for Jackie Byard, Eddie Gale, and high life star Souliman Rogie. With McCauley, the strong vocals of Valois Mickens and Crystal Joy, who performed with comic Steve Allen, give the Ensemble maximum soulfulness. Together and with others, the Sedition Ensemble recorded their one and only album, Regeneration Report in Brooklyn, April 1981.
Released on Mongomery’s Context Music label, Regeneration Report got some notice, but not what it deserved. The music is a tough blend of funk, jazz, no wave, and Latin - very strong stuff that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1981. It was the lyrics that kept the Sedition Ensemble from a larger audience. Revolutionary words with absolutely no compromise, Montgomery and McCauley attack injustance and give an analysis of the world as stark it is true. Their message is sadly still relevant today.
The lazyman’s description of Sedition Ensemble is this: Take the stripped down funkiness of ESG and combine it with the Last Poets’ funk militancy, Fela Kuti’s horn section hipped on free jazz from the 70s New York loft scene, then add a bit of Eddie Palmieri ‘s Harlem River Drive Orchestra.
A private pressing when independent labels had weak distribution, Regeneration Report never sold a lot of records. Few copies made it off the East Coast. Nowadays, original copies fetch good money in collectors’ circles. We at Sol Re Sol Record are proud to reissue this great LP. The vinyl has been remastered by John Golden and is housed in an old style tip-on sleeve and includes liner notes by band founder Ed Montgomery. (Sol Re Sol)
Sedition Ensemble - Tax by S. S./ Sol Re Sol Records