Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio: Africa N'da Blues
The quartet opens with “Ka-Real” a song staple from the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (one of El’Zabar’s other aggregations) penned by trombonist Joseph Bowie. The melodic lucidity of the piece is perfect fodder for Sanders’ flowing lyricism and legendary his tenor pours forth over the lushly rendered melodic line lapping against Brown’s smooth comping and El’Zabar’s restrained traps play. Later Sanders’ coarsens his emotive exclamations and lets fly with a volley of overblown ecstatic cries. A cascading solo from Brown follows before an intoxicating ensemble interlude and close.
“Africanos/Latinos” an Afro-Cuban colored sound poem, offers something unexpected as Brown’s sparse chords dance around El’Zabar’s fluid hand percussion and set up a spacious underpinning for Sandoval’s sultry spoken words. Dwelling mainly in the shadowy corners Sanders’ blows exiguous lines that add further the smoky, soulful flavor of the tune. “Miles Mode” finally affords an opportunity to hear the two tenors in action and the tumbling succession of solos from first Sanders, then Brown, reaffirm expectation. But rather than satiating these tastes the thirst for more unquenched. One consolation is the prominence of El’Zabar’s African percussion on “Pharaoh’s Song.” El’Zabar’s mbira and djembe offer some of most hauntingly exquisite sounds in improvised music and their dulcet tones are a prominent factor alongside a beautifully realized chant and the alternating horns of Sanders (tenor) and Brown (soprano).
Far from being formulaic in a negative sense El’Zabar’s preferred rubric for the Ritual Trio in recent years has resulted in some of the most stimulating music of his career. This disc, while at times adhering a little to closely to the itinerary of past projects continues the successful streak substantiated by these earlier efforts. Thankfully it also demonstrates conclusively that Sanders retirement is still a long way off.
Track Listing: Ka-Real (take 2)/ Africanos/Latinos*/ Miles
Personnel: Kahil El
Record Label: Delmark Records
Style: Modern Jazz