Sunday, January 29, 2012
Percussion Masters + New Music from Underground
His latest CD, "Andrew Cyrille & Haitian Fascination: Route de Freres" (TUM Records), was recorded in December of 2005 with a group featuring bassist Lisle Atkinson, acoustic guitarist Alix "Tit" Pascal, percussionist Frisner Augustin and baritone saxophonist Hamiett Bluiett. The presence of Pascal and Augustin, both natives of Haiti, gives the music a softer edge while Bluiett's expressive baritone adds depth. Atkinson is the "glue" while Cyrille lights the fire under the songs. On several of the pieces ("Route de Freres, Part 1 - Hills of Anjubeau" and "Isaura"), his floor tom work reminds this listener of Ed Blackwell's later work. It's fun to heard him play so "in the pocket" on "Route de Freres, Part 3 - Manhattan Swing", adding pithy fills beneath Pascal's guitar solo. The interplay of Pascal's guitar, Atkinson's bowed bass and Bluiett's squalling baritone on "Sankofa" contains the "freest" playing on the program. Pascal, who recorded with Cyrille in the 1990s, blends Caribbean and South American influences into his playing, especially his wonderful background work (many times, his playing is as rhythmic as the drummers) and his solo lines are quite articulate.
"Route de Freres" may surprise listeners who are used to the more high-energy work of Andrew Cyrille. Much of this music "sings" with the joy of creative freedom, contains the genuine warmth one feels when encountering a native of Haiti, an island nation that has suffered many indignities (both natural and man-made) since winning its freedom from France in 1804. For more information about Andrew Cyrille and this group, go to www.tumrecords.com.
DeJohnette and producer Robert Sadin have assembled a fine (and fairly youthful) band including bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, percussionist Luisito Quintero, guitarist Lionel Loueke and veteran (relatively speaking) saxophonist Tim Ries. Guests include Bruce Hornsby, Bobby McFerrin and Jason Moran, each appearing on one track apiece.
On the surface, this is not the "high energy" DeJohnette one has heard on countless recordings; instead, it's a joyous and joy-filled smorgasbord of sounds that literally dances out of the speakers. The program opens on a meditative note with "Enter Here", a quiet tune featuring just gentle piano figures and resonating bells. Then, it's right into "Salsa for Luisito", with percussive guitar lines, Spalding's sensuous wordless vocals, and Quintero's responsive drum work. Hornsby, who employed DeJohnette and bassist Christian McBride for his 2007 "Camp Meeting" piano trio CD, adds his expressive vocals to the soul-drenched "Dirty Ground", replete with the funkiest guitar one has ever heard from Loueke. Many of the pieces have a distinct Latin feel (Quintero is on all but 3 of the 9 tracks) - Moran joins the band on "Indigo Dreamscapes" which features a long and passionate tenor
solo from Ries. McFerrin appears alongside DeJohnette (piano) and Quintero on "Oneness", a lovely
song with rich piano melodies and a charming expressive wordless vocal. The program closes with "Home", a work with well-defined gospel roots and a sweet, soft, fade.
As Jack DeJohnette enters his 8th decade (he turns 70 in August of this year), his music continues to deepen, exposing more of his soulful expressions and lilting rhythms. Yes, there are other projects on which he drives relentlessly but "Sound Travels" delights at every turn with pure melodic intent (and gently stoked "fire" from the rhythm section.) To find out more, go to www.jackdejohnette.com.
Here's a track from the upcoming Chicago Underground Duo CD, courtesy of Northern Spy and Soundcloud: