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Jason Miles: Global Noize: A Prayer For The Planet

Jeff Winbush By

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Global Noize
A Prayer For The Planet
Lightyear/EMI
2011

Global Noize isn't simply a rather unconventional band. It's also a high concept on a mission. Take a musician with plenty of experience making jazz and pop music (keyboardist Jason Miles), mix in a turntablist (DJ Logic, who knows his way around hip hop and funk after gigging with Vernon Reid, Don Byron and ?uestlove); add a vocalist from Bombay, India (Falguni Shah a.k.a. Falu) and a floating assemblage of New York based musicians; and turn 'em loose on an album which is "world beat" in the most literal sense of the phrase.

The method A Prayer For The Planet employs to accomplish this lofty goal is to surround the core group with a plethora of other accomplished artists drawn largely from the New York music scene; this isn't a session of superstars dropping by from a quick solo Jeff Mironov's guitar gives the title track some greasy, funky riffs that make up for the sincere, but slightly saccharine lyrics, where Falu wishes everyone would set aside their differences and "come together."

DJ Logic's inventive work on the turntables shows out on "21st Century Preacherman" with Karl Denson putting in work on tenor sax and flute and contributing a vocal as well. Andy Snitzer's tenor sax livens up the delightful "Tokyo Sunrise," but there's little time to dawdle when there's another guest artist waiting in the wings. With "Charismalove" its' Falu vocalizing while Israeli guitarist Oz Noy jams with Snitzer and Miles.

Global Noize lives up to its name by drawing inspiration from international sources. Malika Zarra, a Moroccan singer who has collaborated with reed player John Zorn replaces Falu on "Viva La Femme" which also boasts an appearance from Lee Oskar, the master harmonica stylist formerly of the the band War.

Even when Global Noize seems as if it is going through the motions with a routine piece of funk such as "Rios (A Riot In Outer Space)," it still has considerable merit as Jeff Coffin dazzles on soprano and tenor sax and bass clarinet. The less ambitious tracks also offer impressive instances, even when they don't go as far as the best parts of A Prayer For the Planet do.

Falu steps back in for "Wanna Be With You," and despite being the only track featuring the three core members it is undone by a blah arrangement. The no borders feel of the album resumes back up on "Natuerza E Paz (Nature and Peace)" with vocalist Lica Cecato and guitarist Romero Lubambo taking center stage. It comes off an idea than doesn't give Cecato and Lubambo much to do and neither does the undernourished "Cosmic Hug," a pedestrian closer which does boast a sweet tenor sax solo by Ron Holloway.

When Global Noize isn't bending genres it's almost a sampler of underrated and unsung musicians and vocalists well deserving of wider acclaim. Kudos to Miles, Logic and Falu for giving them an impressive showcase. The first half of the album is stronger than the second, which is slightly less focused, but even then does not fail to offer something of interest for the inquiring mind.

A Prayer For The Planet is a triumph of both production and performance, but there's something familiar about it. Was the seed sown back when Jason Miles was programming keyboards for trumpeter Miles Davis' Tutu (Warner Bros, 1986)? "If" is a loaded word, but in its finest moments Global Noize may make you wonder: what if the ever restless Davis had not broken up the classic Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1970) line-up after that album?

Would that band then be making the kind of music Jason Miles is making now? This is good as an answer as any you're likely to come up with.


Tracks: A Prayer For the Planet; 21st Century Preacherman; Tokyo Sunrise; Charismalove; Viva La Femme; Walking On Air; Rios (A Riot in Outer Space); Wanna Be With You; Naturerza E Paz (Nature and Peace); Cosmic Hug.

Personnel: Jason Miles: keyboards, synth bass, programming; DJ Logic: turntables, beats, efx; Falu: vocals (1, 4, 8); Jeff Mironov: guitar (1, 2); Jay Rodriguez: flute (1, 6); Tupac Mantilla: percussion (1, 5, 9, 10); Emily Bindinger: background vocals, vocal arrangement (1); Karl Denson: vocals, tenor sax, flute, horn arrangement (2); Michael League: bass (2, 6, 9, 10); Andy Snitzer: soprano sax (3, 4); Jerry Brooks: bass (3); Oz Noy: guitars (4, 7); Malika Zarra: vocals (5); Mocean Worker: bass, additional production (5); Lee Oskar: harmonica (5); Josh Dion: drums (5); Brian Dunne: drums (6); Jeff Coffin: soprano sax, tenor sax, bass clarinet (7); Lica Cecato: vocals (9); Romero Lubambo: acoustic and electric guitar (9); Ron Holloway: tenor sax (10).

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