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Extended Analysis

Build an Ark: Peace With Every Step

By Published: March 25, 2005
Build an Ark
Peace With Every Step

Drawing on the teeming talent pool of LA jazz musicians, Carlos Ninos put out a positive idea, hoping to send a shock wave around the world. Build An Ark sends soldiers of peace to the front lines. With bracing up-tempo jams and lyrics addressing our dark times with prayers of peace, Build An Ark asks us to consider the common good and dance with it.

Sailing in on Nate Morgan's ultra cool Fender Rhodes, singer Dwight Trible takes the lead on "You've Gotta Have Freedom" striking an exhilarating tone at the outset. Joshua Spiegelman sticks close on bass clarinet, following Trible's lead even into his scat singing. Trible's fine pipes scale gospel mountains adorned by background vocalists Gaby Hernandez and Tracey Hart. Phil Ranelin's humid "Vibes From the Tribes" follows, Derf Reklaw's congas and Alan Lightner's drums stirring the pot with Morgan's icy nectar piano answering the soul chorus of Ranelin with Spiegelman on flute, Trevor Ware keeping the riff alive on bass.

Bird song, Lightner's traps, and a cameo by Adam Rudolf on dusu n'goni open "Conversations." Atmospheric pianistics, Trible's soft wordless vocal, and Spiegelman's bamboo flute wrap themselves like ground fog around Rudolf's steady rhythm. For "Precious, Priceless," Ware drips bass syrup on Trible's plaintive vocal. Spiegelman laces flute ornamentation over the quiet drumming. Poet Peter Harris reads a human manifesto over a Trible-led chorus chant and soft guitar. "Put down your gun/pick up your baby," he says sensibly on "Love is Our Nationality." Spiegelman's balaphone and Morgan's piano join the rhythm section in creating a night time bonfire beach for Harris' needed declaration of independence from ignorance.

Baba Alade's catchy medley of "Pure Imagination/Tortoise and the Hare," is fuller and livelier here than the more intimate version on his earthy and excellent cd, United and One, a small whistle flute bobbing around like a rabbit. Rudolf returns for "Drumprovise," with the ensemble contributing percussions, a too brief beautiful Morgan solo, "Japan'? melts into the title track. Trible's inspiring delivery of the lyric precedes a meditative instrumental interlude featuring Lesa Terry's violin playing call and response to the flute, Ware occasionally arco for added richness. Another set of variations on Stanley Cowell's composition, "Collective" encores Spiegelman and Terry's inventive play. Impromptu chants of "Peace and Love," and "The Stars are Singing Too" give way to Derf Reklaw's "Nu Baya Roots," sounding like an outtake from his Sunrise on the NIle. Likewise the drum and flute duet, "Village Soft."

The groove returns with Terry's violin and a heavenly chorus on "the Blessing Song." Morgan leads a reggae version on "Guidance," Terry and Spiegelman chasing each other when the rhythm goes straight ahead. Finally, a wonderful tribute to great musicians now gone, "Always There." Morgan and Reklaw set the easy glide pace for the full ensemble, with the chorus singing the title. Solidly in motion, various members call out names, beginning with Billy Higgins and Horace Tapscott. The celestial honor roll gives chills and smiles, not the least when someone yells, "Eric Dolphy!" and Spiegelman blasts a short fiery Dolphy-esque run on flute.

Brimming with hope and light, Peace With Every Step hits the reset button, re- centering on the essential while allowing some of our best local to shine. If only I could've voted for these people. . .

Personnel: Nate Morgan, Rhodes; Dwight Trible, vocals; Trevor Ware, bass; Derf Reklaw, percussion; Alan Lightner, drums; Phil Ranelin, trombone; Baba Alade, vocals, bass, guitar; Joshua Spiegelman, flute; Adam Rudolf, percussion; Gaby Hernandez, vocals; Tracey Hart, vocals; Mark Maxwell, vocals and percussion; Bob Wisdom, percussion; Lesa Terry, violin; Andres Renteria, vocals; Damon Aron, vocals

Track Listing: You've Got to Have Freedom; Vibes from the Tribe; Conversations; Precious, Priceless; Love is Our Nationality; Pure Imagination/Tortoise and the Hare; Drumprovise; Japan; Peace with Every Step; Equipoise; Collective; Peace and Love; the Stars are Singing Too; Nu Baya Roots; Village Soft; the Blessing Song; Guidance; Always There

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