It is good to hear more of this phenomenal jazz unit. From their debut self-titled release in 1992 to Soulfish in 1993 it was pure ecstasy for me to try to keep up with all this band's hyper-kinetic twists and turns. They could Coltrane soothe, they could play heavy metallic fusion, they would rap to jazz, they got speed funky, and even strains of Mahavishnu Orchestra could be detected. But first and foremost Lost Tribe was avant-garde cutting edge jazz. I mean hot and saucy sweet flowing jazz. They were bombastic, unpredictable, and pure genius.
Between 1993 and 1998, a long hiatus silenced it all. Now, five years later they are back. Of the original group there remains Adam Rogers on guitar, David Binney on alto saxophone, Fima Ephron doing bass, and Ben Perowsky on drums. No longer do we hear David Gilmore on guitars and guitar synth. It is incredibly obvious that Gilmore is absent. The rap is gone. The in- your-face funk has slipped away. And most sadly so, a certain edge, a nervous, explosive energy that Gilmore's muted or volcanic guitar added is lacking.
This is a different Lost Tribe; mellowed, still delightfully quirky and inspiring, yet just not the same. Compositionally speaking, Lost Tribe's songs have not really changed. Out of 23 songs covering the aforementioned earlier releases, Gilmore composed only 4 and one with Rogers. It's the attack, the tone, the forcefulness, that has diminished in Many Lifetimes. Even Rogers' guitar is kicked back a notch or two in comparison to how both he and Gilmore used to trade fiery licks with Binney's blazing sax runs. Sure, Lost Tribe had plenty of quiet, reflective moments in their past releases but now the music's mood seems carefully spiraling around a very somber helix with measured breaths.
Only on "Manticore"and "Concentrics" do we hear a retrospective taste of the earlier, energetic Lost Tribe. All the rest of this CD relaxes and gently grooves you. Don't get me wrong. This is above average, high quality jazz. It satisfies. Just remember, if you wanted to hear more of the old days, well they seem to have slipped away somehow. Recommended regardless.