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Album Review

Xhosa Cole: Ibeji

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Xhosa Cole: Ibeji
Few places on the global jazz scene are enjoying the enthusiastic resurgence of the genre more than the UK. Names that are becoming more familiar—Binker Golding, Nubya Garcia, Idris Rahman, Shabaka Hutchings and others—have triggered something of a youth movement. Emerging in that group is yet another top-notch saxophonist, Xhosa Cole. Cole's sophomore release, Ibeji is full of terrific music, wrapped in a missed opportunity.

Ibeji takes its name from the Yoruba religion, and features six percussionists individually contributing to tenor sax duo tracks. Drummer Jason Brown has worked with Cedar Walton, Nicholas Payton, Wayne Escoffery and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Nigerian percussionist, Lekan Babalola has performed with Ernest Ranglin, Branford Marsalis, David Byrne, Joshua Redman and many other top artists. Mark Sanders is in trios with Evan Parker, John Butcher, and Elliott Sharp; he has also performed with Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Roswell Rudd, Peter Evans, William Parker, Nate Wooley, Ivo Perelman and Nicole Mitchell. Cole's brother, Azizi Cole, a member of the venerable UK free jazz ensemble The People's Orchestra, and improvisational drummers Corey Mwamba and Ian Parmel are on hand as less traditional percussionists.

Cole's music bears some resemblance to Rahman and Binker's style, but there is a singular fluidity of performance that melds with powerful sax solos which provide the strongest refrains. "Andy's Shuffle," the duet with Jason Brown, is an exhilarating firestorm. An island flavor permeates "Dance of Ancestra," and "Our Search For" takes a disorientating ride through impulsive pulsing beats and angles. "Native Tongues"' post-modern hard bop and the title track's foray into the African diaspora, demonstrate Cole's wide- ranging fluency of styles.

Here is the rub. Ibeji consists of nineteen tracks; only nine of which are music. The remaining ten tracks are excerpts of discussions between Cole and his collaborators, interwoven with the music. A few are of passing interest from a historical perspective but even those dissipate the high energy of the music. Other snippets such as how often Cole has changed the spelling of his name, are unnecessary and unwelcome distractions. The music of Ibeji and Cole's performances are nothing short of electrifying journeys of creation, organic and highly original. His percussive collaborators are excellent but this is Cole's show. Hopefully, the saxophonist will take a more focused approach to his next project.

Track Listing

Doo-shima; C—L—A—V-E—; Andy's Shuffle; Jazz is About; Hear The; Dance of Ancestra; Masks-Rituals-Ancestors; Our Search For; Mark Skit #1; IG Live 20-04-2021; Native Tongues; CDC; Beat-9.wav; Double Displacement; Mark Skit #2; All Roads; AAC; Alhamdulilah; Ibeji.

Personnel

Xhosa Cole: saxophone, tenor; Jason Brown: drums; Lekan Babaloa: drums; Mark Sanders: drums; Corey Mwamba: vibraphone; Ian Parmel: drums; Azizi Cole: drums.

Album information

Title: Ibeji | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Self Produced

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