David Rogers: Afro-Appalachian Jazz

Elliott Simon By

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David Rogers Sextet
The World Is Not Your Home
Jumbie Records

Imaginary Homeland
Jump For George
Jumbie Records

A decade ago, tenor saxophonist David Rogers' awareness of African music and jazz led him to compose pieces that were a synthesis of these interests and influences. Bringing together a sextet of Detroit's finest young jazz musicians he recorded these pieces and the session remained unreleased. Subsequently, Rogers spent an extended period of time in Africa and immersed himself in the Ghanian musical culture of the Dagbamba people. While there, he assimilated their drum-language and horse hair fiddle compositional forms into his already well-grounded mix of Africa and jazz. Upon returning to NYC, he composed and recorded a new blend based on his greater appreciation of the interrelationship of not only jazz, but also Appalachian fiddle, to the music of West Africa.

Ten years can be a long time in the fickle world of jazz/world fusion but The World Is Not Your Home stands up well to this test. This is in large part due to the strength of these compositions and the presence of top flight musicians. Drummer Gerald Cleaver and pianist Craig Taborn are heard here before their arrival and integration into the NYC jazz landscape as is bassist Marion Hayden who has played with violinist Regina Carter in the all-female ensemble Straight Ahead. Along with Rogers' communicative tenor, Mark Stone's vibes and assortment of African percussion link the sounds of both gatherings. In addition, the suitably titled "Mobius Trip and title tracks, a fusion masterpiece, appear in separate guises.

Stone is given a freer hand to augment and, along with bassist Matt Pavolka, structure the contemporary feel of Jump For George. Similarly, Derek Bermel's clarinet mixes with tenor for captivating voicings on "The World is Not Your Home while on the latter, enough cannot be said for violinist Marlene Rice. She thrills with exciting jazz and captivating Appalachian techniques that cross continents. Rogers also displays his mastery of the "talking drum or lunna on several cuts, most notably the worldly funk of "Travelogue , and stops off for the addition of Cuban "Son to "El Sonero . Taken together, The World Is Not Your Home and Jump for George elegantly expose two points in time during a continual process of artistic maturation and discovery. The former is noteworthy for its look-see into the discovery of cross cultural commonalities while the latter is a more complex and stylistically mature quilt of jazz, Appalachia and Africa.

Tracks and Personnel

The World Is Not Your Home

Tracks: The World Is Not Your Home; Don't Drop That Coffin!; Oboo Ketua Nyom (Little Stone Song); Mobius Trip; The Merciful Ones; La Isla De Reyes.

Personnel: David Rogers: tenor saxophone, lunna talking drum (#1); Craig Taborn: piano; Gerald Cleaver: drum set, percussion (#6); Marion Hayden: acoustic bass; Mark Stone: gungon (#1), gyil xylophone (#3), vibraphone (#5), lead conga (#6: Derek Bermel: clarinet (#1, 5), lunna talking drum (#1), gyil xylophone (#3), clave (#6).

Jump For George

Tracks: Kanawha Girl; Anthem; Mobius Trip; Jump for George; Travelogue; El Sonero; The World is Not Your Home.

Personnel: David Rogers: saxophones, talking drums; Mark Stone: "African drum set", percussion, gyil (Ghanaian xylophone); Marlene Rice: violin; Matt Pavolka: acoustic bass.

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