94

Sonic Liberation Front: Ash

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Sonic Liberation Front: Ash To the Yoruba people of West Africa (and their Cuban relations in the new world), the very spirit of existence is a primordial life force known as Ashé. Together with a group known as the Sonic Liberation Front, drummer Kevin Diehl has very consciously tapped into this energy. The group's first record, 2001's Water and Stone , was a widely acknowledged idiosyncratic landmark, drawing from both Afro-Cuban roots and the jazz tradition. Ashé A Go-Go continues in a similar vein, hanging its weight on the same hooks.

Those hooks include a brief touch of ambient electronics, nearly constant interlaced drums, and front-line horns, with vocals added here and there to keep things grounded. The title track presents a typical blend, opening with shimmery gongs (presumably part of the "ambient electronics"), proceeding through a relatively straightforward, though oddly organized theme on saxophones. (This part brings to mind the conjoined twin leads that Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry introduced decades ago. The harmonic and timbral flexibility of that era's free jazz recurs through the record.)

A couple of minutes along, the rhythm section kicks in with vivid interlocking patterns, emphasizing the power of West African (and Afro-Cuban) drumming to convey a pulse without stating it directly. An alto saxophone comes to the foreground midway through with a fluttering solo over a repeated bass accompaniment, sounding a cry of welcome for the call-and-response vocals that follow. It's a manifesto of cultural fusion, more African than American, but too mixed up to be broken down that easily in any case. Don't go looking for anything close to the usual Latin jazz; this is deep-roots stuff.

Most of the seven tracks feature four or more musicians in a similar configuration, with very prominent drumming by Diehl & company. Sometimes the rhythm is very straightforward (as with the chekere of "The Sirens"), but it's usually kinked up in a traditional Afro-Cuban way. One key reference point, especially for the larger groups, is Cuban pianist Omar Sosa's own integrated approach to jazz and the African diaspora.

The three pieces with vocals stand out as the high points of the recording, probably because they're so effectively grounded. Chuckie Joseph sings "Agua Dulce" and accompanies himself alone on guitar, echoing the open harmonies and root-centric folk music that's still popular in West Africa today. On "Gema Oculta" ("hidden gem"), the lyrics intone a mystical double entendre: "tienes la llave / ahh, por que no abres la puerta?" ("you have the key / ahh, why don't you open the door?").

Just open the door.

Visit High Two and the Sonic Liberation Front on the web. High Two is distributed by AUM Fidelity .

Track Listing: Ash

Personnel: Kevin Diehl: drums, itotele, chawaro, clave, palitos, shekere, electronics; Chuckie Joseph: okonkolo, iya, itotele, quinto, lead vocal, congas, guitar; Andy Gonzalez: bass; Julio Berrios: okonkolo, congas; Terry Lawson: tenor saxophone; Dan Scofield: alto saxophone; Adam Jenkins: alto saxophone; Kimbal Brown: trumpet; Madison Rast: bass; Venissa Santi: chorus vocal; Fabunmi: chorus vocal.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: High Two Recordings | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read Ha Noi Duo CD/LP/Track Review Ha Noi Duo
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 27, 2017
Read Like, Strange CD/LP/Track Review Like, Strange
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 27, 2017
Read Coalesce CD/LP/Track Review Coalesce
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 27, 2017
Read Il sistema periodico CD/LP/Track Review Il sistema periodico
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 27, 2017
Read Code Noir CD/LP/Track Review Code Noir
by James Nadal
Published: March 27, 2017
Read Welcome to Swingsville! CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "Conditions" CD/LP/Track Review Conditions
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Outside In" CD/LP/Track Review Outside In
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 9, 2016
Read "Vocturnal" CD/LP/Track Review Vocturnal
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 16, 2016
Read "57th & 9th" CD/LP/Track Review 57th & 9th
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Live In Ludwigshafen 1961" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Ludwigshafen 1961
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2016
Read "As it Was" CD/LP/Track Review As it Was
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!