Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

201

Julius Hemphill: Dogon A.D.

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Dogon A.D. has long been revered as a classic among jazz connoisseurs; Julius Hemphill's relatively obscure but highly influential debut is widely considered the missing link between the avant-garde and populist forms such as blues, funk and soul. The 1972 recording session for this historic masterpiece originally produced four unique compositions, but Hemphill only issued three on his Mbari Records imprint due to time constraints. Arista/Freedom Records eventually bought the master tapes, using the fourth cut, "The Hard Blues," as the lead-off track to the saxophonist's 1975 LP, 'Coon Bid'ness, before reissuing the Mbari set two years later. Long out of print, this limited edition CD reunites the original four tracks for the very first time, packaged in a deluxe mini-replica of the Arista/Freedom jacket.

Hemphill, like many of his peers in the aftermath of the 1960s, attempted to reconcile the aesthetic differences between the innovations of the New Thing and the proverbial "music of the people." Critical success was often fleeting for most jazz musicians in this regard, especially those operating in the then nascent fusion scene. This spartan date bears the distinction of being one of the first records to capture an artist of Hemphill's caliber successfully transposing the emotional candor of popular African-American musical traditions—from the sacred to the secular—into the rarefied language of free jazz, without compromising the unique characteristics of either idiom.

The title track's hypnotic ostinato—bowed by Abdul Wadud's sinewy cello and underscored by Philip Wilson's stalwart backbeat—churns with the single-minded devotion of a late night prayer meeting; Hemphill's raspy alto and Baikida Carroll's earthy trumpet respond in kind, taking turns delivering oblique cadences imbued with a gruff lyricism recalling the testimonial fervor of Southern preachers. The bristling contrapuntal interplay of "Rites" similarly evokes the ecstatic call-and-response of Baptist traditions—as well as the impassioned funereal rites of the West African Dogon tribe. (The titular "A.D." stands for adaptive dance, named after Dogon ritual dances altered to suit the tastes of Western tourists.) The quixotic meditation, "The Painter," presents another facet of Hemphill's artistry, framing his multicolored flute ruminations against an undulating aural canvas reminiscent of the abstract work of its dedicatee, the visual artist Oliver Jackson. The closer, "Hard Blues," reprises the title track's unfettered mood of raw expressionism and seething power, with Hemphill and Carroll economically negotiating vertiginous angles in rhapsodic form.

Like the enigmatic Dogon society that inspired him, Hemphill's landmark premiere was similarly ahead of its time; since its initial release generations of improvisers have been seduced by its charms—from David Sanborn to Vijay Iyer. Listed by Ben Ratliff of the New York Times as one of 100 essential jazz recordings, Dogon A.D. is a timeless masterwork culled from the crossroads of African-American music traditions and one of the most important jazz reissues of the year.

Track Listing: Dogon A.D.; Rites; The Painter; Hard Blues.

Personnel: Julius Hemphill: alto saxophone, flute; Baikida E. J. Carroll: trumpet; Abdul Wadud: cello; Philip Wilson: drums; Hamiet Bluiett: baritone saxophone (4).

Title: Dogon A.D. | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: International Phonograph Inc.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Julius Hemphill / Peter Kowald: Live at Kassiopeia

Julius Hemphill /...

NoBusiness Records
2012

buy
Dogon A.D.

Dogon A.D.

International Phonograph Inc.
2011

buy
 

Live at Kassiopeia

GR2 Classics
2011

buy
The Hard Blues

The Hard Blues

Clean Feed Records
2005

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read East Of The River Nile Album Reviews
East Of The River Nile
By Chris May
February 23, 2019
Read VOX Album Reviews
VOX
By Friedrich Kunzmann
February 23, 2019
Read live@ZKM Album Reviews
live@ZKM
By Bruce Lindsay
February 23, 2019
Read cinder: ember: ashes Album Reviews
cinder: ember: ashes
By Glenn Astarita
February 23, 2019
Read Amour Album Reviews
Amour
By Doug Collette
February 23, 2019
Read Friendly Signs Album Reviews
Friendly Signs
By Don Phipps
February 22, 2019
Read The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes Album Reviews
The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes
By Roger Farbey
February 22, 2019