The roots of Ethio-jazz may date back to the '50s, but Jay Danley and crew show that it's too fresh and funky to be chained to any erathe grooves are slick, the bass catchy, the brisk rhythms expertly woven like the strands of a rope, and the cast is clearly having a good time. The Canadian guitarist covers a lot of figurative ground with Ethio-Jazz Volume 1, though it's the kind of mix that welcomes everyone to the party regardless of how far over the map it wanders. There are enough Eastern melodies and slinky scales to satisfy worldly listeners, but there's just as much to enjoy for aficionados of Afro-beat or electric funk.
For better or worse, this installment isn't traditional enough to include keberos or idiophones; the lineup is a more traditionally Western mix of instruments, even if the pieces are quite exotic. Danley takes a couple expressive solos in spots like the contemplative "Green and Gold," though it's really an ensemble affair. A triple-horn team dashes off snazzy licks and smooth choruses, Rich Brown's electric bass keeps the place hopping, and some colorful Latin-jazz piano from Hilario Duran elevate spots like the spry "Getachew" to further playful heights.
The carnival continues for a bright and fun hour without letup. "Mulatu" weaves a smoky snake-charmer's daydream, while "An Emerald at the Bottom of the Ocean" suddenly drops us onto a Caribbean beach instead. Ethio-jazz is in good hands with such willing spirits to carry it into this century and make it approachable to all kinds of unfamiliar ears. Bring on volume two.
Track Listing: Aboota; Clean Water And A bag Of Rice; D.A.R.E.; An Emerald At The Bottom Of The Ocean; Getachew; Green And
Gold; Mulatu; Sundial; The Marble Orchard; The Solace Of The Beating Heart; Waking Dream.
Personnel: Jay Danley: guitar/composer; Elena Kapeleris: saxophone; Chris Gale: saxophone; Alexander Brown: trumpet; Max
Senitt: drums; Adam Hay: percussion; Tyler Emond: bass; Hilario Duran: Piano; Rich Brown: bass.