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Dwight Trible: Ancient Future

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Dwight Trible: Ancient Future
This adventurous album takes spiritual jazz's premier vocalist out of his comfort zone and into the deep blue yonder. It is a work of extremes, beginning with a storm of avant-rock, funk and electronics and ending by spinning off into abstract space accompanied by a virtual headful of Stanley Owsley's finest. In short, Ancient Future will shave your ass.

The album is the follow-up to Trible's outstanding Mothership (Gearbox, 2019), but aside from being on the same label and having the same producer, Gearbox founder Darrel Sheinman, there any resemblance ends. Apart, that is, from the presence of guest Kamasi Washington, who adds a fittingly Pharoah Sandersish tenor-saxophone counterpoint to Trible's vocals on "African Drum." And apart, too, from Trible's vocal delivery, which is pretty much in his own singular tradition though eliding towards James Brown meets the Last Poets territory from time to time.

Washington aside, instrumentally Ancient Future is all change. Trible fronts a plugged-in core quintet completed by keyboardist and pianist John Beasley, well loved in this parish, most recently for his Monk'estra outings; gospel music's go-to electric bassist, André Gouché, whose credits include touchstones such as The Mighty Clouds Of Joy and The Winans; drummer Greg Paul from Katalyst, whose Jazz Is Dead 13 (Jazz Is Dead, 2022) bent a few genres of its own; and guitarist G.E. Stinson, transgressive son of Muddy Waters and co-founder of Shadowfax.

The first side of the album is hallmarked by warp-speed electric bass and drums, futuristic keyboards and darting, luminescent guitar. And Trible's vocals, of course, which address, in track order, social media's lethal culture, his Los Angeles home turf, kicking back on the beach, and his old friend, saxophonist Derf Reklaw, who played percussion on Mothership and passed in 2022.

Side two starts in similar vein, but it is the further adventures on the final two tracks which are the most deeply arresting. "African Drum," on which Beasley's keys and Stinson's guitar suggest both 1970s West African guitar-band highlife and contemporaneous Congolese rumba, evokes Trible's back catalogue and its on/off collaborations with Pharoah Sanders. Closing track "Wind" eschews motor rhythms and vamps to venture into the kind of fourth-world outside music that the pioneering trumpeter and electonicist Jon Hassell was exploring in the 1980s at his friend, Bitches Brew sleeve artist Mati Klarwein's hillside hideaway in Ibiza, with assistance from Stanley Owsley's corporeal product. If Ancient Future could be made even better, it would be through the inclusion of more content along similar trajectories as these two tracks.

Spring 2023, by the way, is shaping up like Christmas-come-early for Trible fans. He is featured on most of Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble's all acoustic Spirit Gatherer: Tribute To Don Cherry (Spiritmuse), which comes out in mid-April. A review will follow here nearer the release date, as will an interview with El'Zabar. Suffice to say for now, the album is a blinder.

And in case you missed it, in 2022 Trible was a featured guest on Mark de Clive-Lowe's live double Freedom: Celebrating The Music Of Pharoah Sanders (Soul Bank), a patchy but worthwhile electro-acoustic salute to the late and much lamented astral-jazz flagbearer.

Track Listing

Truth; My Stomping Ground; Beach Vibes; Derf Reklaw; Elements; Black Dance; African Drum; Wind.

Personnel

André Gouché
bass, electric
Greg Paul
drums
G.E. Stinson
guitar, electric
Additional Instrumentation

Kamasi Washington: tenor saxophone (7); Megashia Jackson: percussion, background vocals (7); Rene Fisher: percussion (7); Georgia Anne Muldrow: vocals (6); John Beasley: piano and keyboards; Greg Paul: drums and percussion.

Album information

Title: Ancient Future | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Gearbox Records


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