Randy Weston African Rhythms Quintet: Spirit! The Power of Music (2003)
Weston begins solo, on the low end of the piano, starting to stir up the spirits on “Origin.” After a few minutes Talib Kibwe’s beautiful, sprightly flute emerges for a fervent duet. That is followed by a bluesy round between Weston and Powell’s muted trombone, beckoning the spirits over to the jazzier side of things. Alex Blake’s brilliant percussive bass style, inspired by the rhythms of his native Panama, blends in perfectly with the primitive hag’houge, a North African stringed instrument.
The last four tracks feature vocals by the Gnawas, three each from Marrakech and Tangier. “Chalabati” is redolent of the black church at times, punctuated by handclaps, call-and-response, and low string strums. Clear evidence that the roots of the blues lie firmly withing African soil. Weston’s quintet returns on the first part of “Lalla Mira.” Kibwe’s sinuous soprano weaves in and out of the exciting group chants and layered percussion, rich with the clashes of the karkaba hand- cymbals. The music’s intensity builds to an exhausting level through the remainder of the disc, delivering a wild, cathartic experience to the listener. One of the best world-jazz fusions of recent memory.
Track Listing: Receiving the Spirit (Origin / Receiving the Spirit); Introduction to Hag
Personnel: Randy Weston, piano; Benny Powell, trombone; Talib Kibwe, alto and soprano saxes, flute; Alex Blake, bass; Neil Clarke, African percussion; Ahmed Ben Othman, Abdenebi Oubella, Mostafa Oubella, karkaba, dancer, vocals; M
Record Label: Sunnyside Records