February 4 2009
Global jazz, is there any other kind? Of course it's facetious to even make that distinction. Soooo culturally specific, really meaning or rather implying some kind of different status for players who happened to be born anywhere but within the borders of these United States. And a distinction That I think most musicians don't even care about. Nevertheless, public consciousness of jazz from other countries is often so limited when compared to what they may know about this country's greats that it is useful, for the purpose of making a display, to present a set of jazz music from odd players(ie. not any of the obvious, no Miles Davises or Coltranes, John or Alice) and positioning it as Global Jazz simply to pique your curiosity. Curiosity, or idle ears and hands, either way I don't care; it is an excuse to present a set of great music, of global musicians working with this art form that has less to do with a country of origin and more to do with a certain sensibility of making music in general. This Wednesday's set features more of what we started, musicians participating in the style known as jazz, but making their mark in ways that remind you of the countries that they came from as much as they recall the jazz.
Wednesday's Sound Travels: Global Jazz pt. II
1. Letta Mbulu "Pula Yetla" Capitol 12" single... South African jazz singer Letta Mbulu has been active since the '60's, bringing her nation's simmering Swahili jazz to this nation when she emigrated to the US in '65. She's worked with numerous jazz greats like Belafonte, Cannonball Adderly and on this cut, David Axelrod. It's a rootsy, exotic sound to hear jazz in Swahili...the sense of space, like of the South African savannas cross with the emotion of a divided and cruel cultural milieu works dramatically in this cut.
2. Ahmad Abdul-Malik : "Ismaa" Department Of Latin American Affairs...One of my favorite songs(trust me I have plenty!), is this bizarre one I found looking through the 99cent bin at Bullseye Records over on Irving near The Comet. The album's title makes one think that there might be something Latin on it...but no, just straight ahead jazz and this square peg. "Ismaa" is middle-eastern in its bent and Abdul-Malik works the sounds of the Oud into this shimmering, exotic caravan through the deserts of the mind.
3. Ray Baretto: "Power" Power...Baretto is a legend, a Fania All-Star and "Power," as well as "Acid" are excellent statements on the man and his art...I went with "Power" to fit the mix, but if you like latin jazz, Baretto is not to be missed.
4. Fernando Gelbard "Alevacolariea" ...a fun and playful cut from French Antilles-born Gelbard, this is a rare cut! Check out the free jazz horn ripping through African rhythms and Brazilian cuica.
5. Har-You Percussion Ensemble "Welcome To The Party" Har-You Percussion Ensemble...smoking Latin Jazz from a group that consisted of first-generation Nuyorican musicians. My mind was amazed when i later discovered they were only in high school when they cut this rare gem of an album.
6. Batsumi "Lishonelle" ...We hear the laziest sax playing on this afro-jazz gem, may not be your cup of tea but it sounds right, here at the end of the set. The dilivery and phrasing may sound crazy and silly but to a point as the music builds on layers of rhythmic piano playing and frenetic percussion and tribal yells.