Music from India, Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Other International Beats
Gianluca Petrella here leads a quartet of fellow Italian countrymen Francesco Bearzatti (clarinet, tenor sax), Fabio Accardi (drums) and Dalla Porta (bass) through a colorful spectrum of original, thoroughly modern jazz that begins with a Monk tune, ends with a tribute to Sun Ra, and pairs together two Ellingtons in the middle. Indigo4 is Petrella's first US major label release but not quite his debut, as he has previously performed and recorded with Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Steve Coleman, Lester Bowie and other well-known vanguard musicians.
The opening cover of Monk's "Trinkle, Tinkle honors jazz tradition in an untraditional way: Petrella first recorded his quartet's acoustic performance of Monk's tune straight-up, followed with spontaneous acoustic improvisation as chaser, then used these recordings in pastiche with additional Monk recordings and other electronic samples to create a "new, old jazz sound that skitters on iced-up drum-n-bass.
On their "I Got It Bad duet, Porta and Petrella create the wobbly sound of acoustic bass and muted trombone growing more and more lovesick together; this couples with a spastic space-age version of "Mood Indigo propelled by Accardi's drum pinwheels. "Lazy Moon uncoils like a long, sloooow daydream, a showcase for Petrella's space-walkin', muted trombone blues. His final adventure reaches backward and forward into jazz' past and future with a sonic tribute to another musician rarely encumbered by conventional time and space, "A Relaxing Place on Venus for Sun Ra.
Blue Note's promotional materials for Indigo4 propose that Petrella is creating "an eccentric yet compelling blend of traditional jazz, electronica and avant-garde. Damn if that ain't the truth!
Gone Are the Days
Lions of Israel
On this debut, young lion Joseph Israel proves a faithful student of classic spiritualized reggae. Judging from his supporting cast, he certainly should: His backing group The Jerusalem Band draws musicians from bands led by contemporary toaster Luciano and Ziggy Marley, Bob's son, and features legendary island guitarist Earl "Chinna Smith plus bassist Chris Meredith, producer for the Melody Makers.
This debut bubbles with reggae thick and bright. Israel sings lead and wrote or co-wrote every song, his music and words resounding with echoes of founding father Marley that are profound and inescapable. Listen to his plaintive lead vocal in the opening "Jerusalem and nearly hear whispers of "Exodus, feel the strength of a young man convicted and strong through his too-tough phrasing in the title track, or burn with his litany of the world's oppressed in "Hotta Fiyah. In this same cut, the female vocalists sway and rumble through a playful chart, testifying with soul like Rita Marley and the I-Threes. All together it creates a classic reggae sound.
A primary contributor to that sound, guitarist Smith works nimble and quick with hot leads in "Truth and rippling fills in the wishful "Jah Kingdom, exquisitely economic, playing no more than is necessary to advance the melody and rhythm, and no less (Smith still sounds, sort of, like the reggae equivalent of rock guitarist Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits).
Israel's lyrics and notes relentlessly explore the relationship between Jah and Yahweh ("Jah -weh) with detailed references to the Hebrew Old Testament and Christian New Testament. From "King of Kings, for example: "Jah so loved the world he gave his only begotten son/ Revelation tells the story about the King of Glory/ The tribulation that is at hand, the destruction of all nations... But he mixes it up tough, too, driving home more aggressive rhythms in the title track and in "Truth, which wraps up in a knotty, rugged instrumental jam.
Gone was co-produced by Israel, Meredith, Smith and drummer Wilburn "Squidley Cole, and recorded at several of Jamaica's most famous studios, including Big Yard (a favorite of Shaggy's) and Bob Marley's preferred studio, Tuff Gong. Not bad for Israel's first time.
Ziriguiboom: The Now Sound of Brazil 2
Ziriguiboom / Six Degrees
The music on this compilation is as mysterious, romantic, and fashionable as the continent from which it comes, a roadmap through Ziriguiboom's exotic Brazilian jungle overgrown with cross-pollinated classic and contemporary music; as the packaging says, "from electronic to bossa to samba soul.
Brazil 2 traverses three more or less equal, colorful territories: Traditional acoustic instrument-based vocal ballads presented by Bebel Gilberto, Cibelle, and Celco Fonseca; modern, electronic-based club music by DJ Dolores and the fun-loving Bossacucanova (who sound like Brazil's answer to Canada's reigning musical pranksters, the Barenaked Ladies); plus other contemporary Brazilian sounds that sort of writhe between and around such categories.