With a sensuous throttling from the percussion to set things in motion, Louis Siciliano issues the first few bars of “Bambara’s Symmetries” with a sense of confidence in his delivery that is getting harder and harder to find in jazz music anymore. His new record, the four-track EP Ancient Cosmic Truth, is loaded with swagger, and while his compositional eminence is one of the finer sources of intrigue in this record, it’s not the lone reason why I would tell you to pick it up the next time you’re in the market for new music. Rather, it’s Siciliano’s attitude toward rhythm that captivated me when I heard this EP the other day, and it’s likely what will bring him through the mainstream ranks in the future.
I’ve always found the kind of structure utilized in “Translucent Dodecahedron” to be one of the easiest for a band or solo player to mess up if they don’t know how to get into the harmony midway through the song, but this isn’t a worry for Siciliano and his crew at all. Truthfully, he’s putting on a masterclass on how to deconstruct a smooth groove without losing any of the iconic emotionality that makes it one of the most revered you can perform. He puts a soul stamp on this composition that I wouldn’t have anticipated hearing this winter, no matter where it’s coming from, and it makes me want to reanalyze the deeper narrative of the track from the perspective he’s putting together within here.
“The Secret of Mansa” is the most aggressive work on the record, but it doesn’t overshadow the delicate points of “Translucent Dodecahedron” or “Bambara’s Symmetries” at all. Contrarily, I think there’s something incredible about the creative juxtaposition its inclusion in this tracklist creates, starting of course with the first two songs we hear on Ancient Cosmic Truth. Our leading man comes out of the silence in a rage, and his passion bleeds into the rhythm in a way that no instrumentation ever could have on its own. There’s no debating if he’s got the eye of a tiger when he’s coming into the hook in this piece, and I would love to hear what he can do with it when he’s not as constrained for time as he is within the context of this release.
We conclude the brilliant Ancient Cosmic Truth with the titular “Ancient Cosmic Truth,” which to me feels like the natural lead single from the tracklist, although I think all four of these songs could probably be singles in their own right without a lot of heavy promotion for the parent record. When all is said and done, I think the critics are going to be united in calling this one of the best-timed EPs of its kind to debut in the last two months of 2023. This hasn’t been the best era for erudite jazz fans, but records like this are exactly what we collectively need to feel good about the future of the genre and those charged with keeping it alive and well.