Hurricane Season in Brooklyn marks the debut of the Analog Players Society (APS), an extension of the lifelong pursuit of the groove by the percussionist, engineer and producer known as Amon, who first discovered Turkish, West African and Middle Eastern music in collegeand then dropped out to tour with a circus multi-instrumentalist.
"I eventually moved to Chicago and studied African percussion intensely for four years and traveled to Guinea, West Africa, to study," he recalls. "I eventually studied with Famadou Konate, Mamady Keita and M'Bemba Bangora." Amon's percussive awakening continued through work with DJ Nickodemus and dub legend Lee "Scratch" Perry, and is heard and felt in the vocals, handclaps, breaks and beats in Brooklyn, which Amon completely wrote (except for some lyrics and the cover tunes), arranged, recorded, mixed and produced.
Amon's inventiveness with instrumentation and rhythm is particularly striking in Brooklyn's first two tracks. The opening "Free" is an incredible composition and performance: While drummer Sean "Tricky" Dixon thumps a hip-hop sounding beatnot only a hip-hop rhythm but a hip-hop soundJonathan Powell's trumpet icily skates like Miles Davis' atop congas and other percussion popping Afro-Cuban jam; the eventual horn chart simultaneously overlays Afro-beat and jazz (think Basie big band) horns! "Hurricane Season in Brooklyn" projects the hip, edgy sound of Thievery Corporation and trims Cecilia Stalin's lead vocal in edges that suggest Ella Fitzgerald (in her daring, joyous sense of sound) as a space-age disco diva, and closes in thunder that echoes and fades. Both these tunes approach contemporary funk like Stomu Yamashta's Go approached 1970's blues-rock, and are genuinely, organically brilliant.
"Just a Day" wades in the water of a reggae meets jazz vibe led by Stalin's voice, again so sassily swinging that it splashes then melts in your ear like Chaka Khan. In between, and a bit surprisingly, APS surveys and then remodels three popular dance tunes from the 1980s: "Let the Music Play" (Shannon), where Amon translates the vocal melody to dancehall piano and keyboards to glockenspiel; "I Can't Wait" (Nu Shooz); and "Dance Hall Days" (Wang Chung), transformed into a stately reggae instrumental with the horns "singing the chorus" behind Will Jones's sax, slippery and funky like a really good Eddie Harris recording from the 1970s.
"I like capturing the feel of live music in the studio, but playing live with these guys is the best," Amon says. "We all can learn a set in the afternoon and play it that night. I know I can throw anything at them and when we get on the bandstand, it'll be amazing."
Free; Hurricane Season in Brooklyn; Let the Music Play; I Can't Wait; Dance Hall Days; Just a Day; The Hippie Don' Know; Money Street Rain; Moments Combine.
Amon: percussion, tambourine, steps, claps, glockenspiel, bells, cheeky organ; Sean "Tricky" Dixon: drum kit; B. Satz: bass; Ethan White: piano, electric piano, organ, Hammond organ, synthesizer, synth bass, Juno 60, Wurlitzer, vox synthesizer; Cecilia Stalin: vocals; Dave "Smoota" Smith: trombone; Will Jones: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Jonathan Powell: trumpet, valve trombone; Mark "Tewar" Tewarson: guitar, bass; Scott Kettner: drum kit, bells; Jordan Scannella: bass; John Natchez: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Ezra Brown: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Jkriv: bass.