Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Ancient Agents: Ancient Agents

4

Ancient Agents: Ancient Agents

By

Sign in to view read count
Ancient Agents: Ancient Agents
Based in Cape Town, South Africa, the multinational members of Ancient Agents embrace the entire world as their neighborhood in this acoustic world blend. Reza Khota (guitars) is from South Africa: he has worked with many South African musicians (e.g. Kesivan Naidoo, Shane Cooper and Buddy Wells) and takes inspiration from jazz guitar modernists like John McLaughlin and John Scofield. Bassist Schalk Joubert is the other South African in the band: one of the busiest South African session players, he commands South African melodies, West African grooves, and European harmonies. Fredrik Gille (cajon, frame drums, percussion) hails from Sweden: he has collected percussion instruments from all over the world, with Middle Eastern drumming his expertise; but his sound is influenced by everything from Arabic rhythms to Latin music. Ronan Skillen (tabla, hybrid percussion kit, didgeridoo) is Irish: he takes inspiration from the ECM record label's aesthetic, as well as diverse world music styles; he has studied Indian classical music.

All of the members contribute compositions, but the set begins with a collective creation. "Clouseau's Dream" is notable for mbira-like guitar figures. Joubert's "Bokmakierie" shifts the geography slightly with its sprightly South African beat. Khota's The title tune (also credited to the group) is a fine showcase for Joubert's melodic bass playing, also effectively utilizing harmonics. "Misir Wot" employs atmospheric looping for the introduction, then adds Indian raga-influenced guitar lines, tabla, and a bass melody for a definite Indian tone.

Not surprisingly Skillen's sole entry "Sutri's Bells" employs tabla and a gentle guitar ostinato for more Indian flavor: but there's also space for occasional siren-like overdriven guitar lines. Khota's "Unearth" is based around his Afrobeat rhythm guitar, with a jagged melody and solo overdubbed (the album was recorded in one take with minimal editing, and guitar parts like this were the only use of overdubbing). Joubert contributed the final tracks. "Kelefa" is notable for its double-time closing section, with Khota demonstrating blazing fusion guitar chops. "You're The Reason" has a kora-like guitar introduction, followed by a sprightly riff doubled by guitar and bass.

The group produces a joyous sound: melodic, with a groove never far away. In addition to the strong Indian music elements, I was especially struck by the Pan-African aspect. There are South African, West African, and Afrobeat (Nigerian) grooves; and at different times Khota's guitar invokes the mbira (the "thumb piano" associated mainly with Zimbabwe); the kora (the harp-lute employed by jali all over West Africa); and of course the sitar or sarod for the Indian-flavored parts. It is not hard to blend music from around the world, but rarely is it done this well.

Track Listing

Clouseau’s Dream; Bokmakierie; Ancient Agents; Misir Wot; Frame Drum Solo; Sutri’s Bells; Unearth; Kelefa; You’re The Reason.

Personnel

Reza Khota: guitars; Schalk Joubert: bass; Ronan Skillen: tabla, hybrid kit, percussion, didgeridoo; Fredrik Gille: cajon, riq, djeme, frame drum, percussion.

Album information

Title: Ancient Agents | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced


< Previous
The Answer Is No

Next >
Steppin' Up

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Central Park's Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths...
Wadada Leo Smith and Amina Claudine Myers
Water Music
Ivo Perelman Quartet
Ancestral Numbers I
Jason Robinson

Popular

For Real!
Hampton Hawes
My Prophet
Oded Tzur
Nimble Digits
Geoff Stradling
Time Again
Koppel, Blade, Koppel

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.