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Music / Ask the Ages

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.....of the way we used to sing

Ask the Ages is an album by African-American jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock released in 1991 on Axiom Records.

Produced by Bill Laswell, it would see Sharrock playing with former John Coltrane affiliates, drummer Elvin Jones and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, the latter of which he had previously played with on the saxophonists seminal spiritual jazz records Tauhid and Izipho Zam (My Gifts). It would also include a young bassist in Charnett Moffet, who himself was the son of Charles Moffet, another drummer for Ornette Coleman.

Noted for its musicality and idiosyncratic take on jazz guitar, Ask the Ages would be a fusion of his more lyrical post-bop jazz guitar style and his noisier, feedback utilizing, ferocious guitar shredding, while drawing heavily on his own influences such Miles Davis' modal jazz and John Coltrane's notions of freedom. It would be seen as one (if not, the) greatest of his own works as a bandleader and guitarist and of free jazz as a whole. Unfortunately, it would be the last record he would see released in his lifetime, as he would die of a heart attack in 1994.


  1. "Promises Kept" (9:43)
  2. "Who Does She Hope to Be?" (4:41)
  3. "Little Rock" (7:12)
  4. "As We Used to Sing" (7:45)
  5. "Many Mansions" (9:31)
  6. "Once upon a Time" (6:26)

Who Does She Hope to Trope?

  • All Drummers Are Animals: Elvin Jones is known for just packing a lot of power into his playing. This comes in full force on tracks like "Many Mansions" and "As We Used to Sing".
  • Alliterative Title: "Many Mansions"
  • Avant-Garde Music
  • Epic Rocking: Multiple tracks go over the five minute mark, with "Promises Kept" being the longest (and also the first) at nine minutes and forty-three seconds.
  • Improv: As to be expected for a jazz record.
  • Instrumentals: Once again, as to be expected.
  • Jazz: The record is noted within the free jazz an avant-garde jazz movements as a particularly lauded record and one of Sharrock's greatest.
  • Lighter and Softer: In a sense. While the record still contains the noisy, distortion-laden playing Sharrock would become known for, it is still more melodically inclined than say, Seize the Rainbow
  • Record Producer: Although, Bill Laswell is the primary producer for Ask the Ages, Sonny would assist doing most of the overdubbing.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Who Does She Hope to Be?" is a lyrical, swinging jazz ballad that is much softer than any other track on the record.