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Sam Newsome extends his radical departure into the realm of world beat on his latest disc. In 1995 Newsome was an established hard bop saxophonist whose associations included straight-ahead mainstays like Donald Byrd, Lionel Hampton and Terrence Blanchard when he made a 180-degree career switch. He traded in his main ax, tenor saxophone, for the soprano and forswore the inside context for the international grooves of world music.
As the album's title suggests, the music produced here is a melding of influences from disparate cultures. Combining an all-originals program, instruments from around the world, and international players, Newsome creates a multicultural sound. He coaxes from his soprano a shakuhachi-like voice that conveys an East Asian melody on 'A Night in Indonesia'. Crossing to the other side of the globe on 'Into-Nation of Islam', Newsome's horn transforms into a snake charmers flute and with the support of dumbek evokes a Middle Eastern vibe.
While improvisation occurs on Global Unity, links to mainstream jazz remain tenuous. The leader places a higher premium on melodic and rhythmic development than on soloing over conventional chord changes. Music fans with broad tastes will find Sam Newsome's take on world beat rewarding; straight-ahead fans should temper their expectations.
Track Listing: When You See The Light; A Night In Indonesia; An Afrasian Occasion; The Wedding March Of A Playboy; Into-Nation Of Islam; Bongo Betty; the Sucker?s Game; Dance Of The Deli Lama; Dread Man Walking; When You Hide From Me
Personnel: Sam Newsome; soprano sax: Elisabeth Kontomanou; voice: Marvin Sewell; guitars: Jean-Michel Pilc; piano: Ugonna Okegwo; bass: Satoshi Takeishi; Japanese percussion: Gilad; percussion: Guest Artists: Mel Baker; electric bass: Matt Balitsaris; mandola, 12 strong guitar: Jeff Berman; vibes, percussion: Adam Carey; steel pan, percussion: Kahil Kwame Bell; kalimba: Meg Okura; violin
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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