Khan Jamal: Peace Warrior (2005)
Vibraphonist Khan Jamal leads the charge on the eclectic and vibrant Peace Warrior. The album's content, some of which was originally issued in '82 as Don't Take No!, combines recording sessions from '82 and '89. Released on CD by New York-based Random Chance Records, Peace Warrior places a good amount of its emphasis in introducing and integrating the sounds of the synthesizer and the catchy snap of pop beats into its jazz dance.
The resulting music is novel, even twenty years after the fact. The originality, luckily, does not rest solely on the combination of jazz, pop and electronics, but in the group's sensitive and perceptive handling of the material; they know it and speak it well. Upon hearing about electronics and jazz, one might assume this was fusion or some such jazz deviation, but Jamal and crew remain extremely faithful to the structure and sensation of bop-based jazz.
The opening tune, "Don't Take No!", is one of the few not-so-easily definable tunes on the album, though its punk-like insistence is a welcomed thrust in this jazz setting. Gentler, almost meditative pieces like "Scandinavian Dawn," "Peaceful Warrior," and "Nubian Queen" join more straight-ahead jazz fare like "One for Hamp," "Hip Out," the classic "Body and Soul," and the touching "Lovely Afternoon." The concluding song, "The Angry Young Man," has a post-bop, "out"-ward exuberance to it that further highlights the group's ability to explore singular and diverse jazz.
True, the smorgasbord of sounds will put off some, but Peace Warrior never aims to attract narrow minds. Open, free, and powerful, this recording speaks best to like-minded individuals.
Track Listing: Don't Take No!; Scandinavian Dawn; Peaceful Warrior; One for Hamp; Three For All; Hip Out; Body and Soul; Nubian Queen; Lovely Afternoon; Angry Young Man.
Personnel: Khan Jamal: vibes, marimba, KAT MIDI percussion synthesizer; Byard Lancaster: alto sax, flutes; Mark Kramer: piano, synthesizer; Bernard Sammul: piano; Monette Sudler: guitar; Warren Otree: bass; Reggie Curry: bass; Dwight James: drums.