Jazz in this first decade of the 21st Century has few artists using their music to confront the prevailing political climate. Jazz as protest music is an interesting historical artifact that was part of its '60s adolescence, before the music matured into an accepted field of academic study. The jazz educational establishment is more interested in developing technique at the expense of intellectual spirit. If you empathize with any of these statements, give a listen to trombonist Chris Washburne and his SYOTOS Bandbut be warned, it will be a mind-changing experience.
Washburne is a master of Latin jazz, and his previous releases have shown him to be able to crank it up with danceable music that evinces a hot groove. All that is certainly still here on The Land of Nod, where he, along with trumpeter John Walsh and tenor wild man Ole Mathisen, decidedly kick out the jams on Ornette's "Peace and Mathisen's "Op-Ed. A superb rhythm section keeps the salsa flowing and pushes the music in intriguing and sometimes dissonant directions. They tackle the unlikely musical territory of the Hungarian folk tune "Gregory, Don't Go to the Village Dances, turning idyllic villagery into a screaming salsa affair.
It is, however, the new music that makes this release most noteworthy. Washburne holds up his musical mirror to Old Glory, showing it to currently be composed of a somewhat off-centered "Pink, a decidedly funky "Off-White and a deceptively "Blue Gust. His "Guantanamo is a brilliantly conceived multi-cultural soundscape, while the title cut tries to sound a wake-up call to a slumbering nation through infectiously rhythmic dance music. Things close with an elegant, almost elegiac, second plea for "Peace where Horace Silver's melody is beautifully voiced. But is anybody listening?
Track Listing: Pink; Off-Whte; Blue Gust; Op-Ed; Oi Ne Khody Hrytsin Tai na Vechornysti; Guantanamo; Land of Nod; Peace; Peace.
Personnel: Chris Washburne: trombone, percussion; John Walsh: trumpet; Ole Mathisen: tenor saxophone, clarinet;Barry Olsen: piano; Leo Traversa: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Chembo Corniel: congas. Special Guests: Bobby Sanabria: percussion; Malken Derno: Korean gong.