255

Byron Wallen: Meeting Ground

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Byron Wallen: Meeting Ground This album arose from a series of journeys—geographical, cultural and spiritual, but above all musical—undertaken by trumpeter and leader Byron Wallen, who first visited Morocco in 1996. The result of these journeys is a joyous and original record, fusing contemporary jazz with the music of the Gnawa musicians of Morocco.



The ten pieces of music on Meeting Ground tell the story of Bilal, a 6th century Abyssinian slave who was known for his beautiful singing. Released from slavery by Abu Bakr, Bilal was chosen by the Prophet Mohammed to call the faithful to prayer and is now regarded by the Gnawa as their spiritual father. His story is told through tunes and songs that interweave jazz, funk, swing, dub and Gnawa music to create a work that encourages moving from thoughtful reflection to dance and back with ease.



All the musicians play skillfully and sympathetically, although drummer Tom Skinner deserves special praise for his contribution. The singing and guimbri playing of Boujemaa Boubul, a Gnawa musician, gives the album its soul and its unique character, especially on the bluesy "Sailor of the Sands" and uplifting "Exhaltation." The funky "Captive Caravan" is perhaps the best example of Wallen's playing, as he underpins and weaves around Boubul's vocal lines. More unusually, Wallen also creates slightly spooky and mysterious sounds by playing shells on some tracks.

Both Wallen and saxophonist Tony Kofi are MOBO Award nominees, reflecting their abilities and status within the British music scene. Meeting Ground is dedicated to the late Andrew Hill, who called Wallen "one of my greatest discoveries of the Twenty-First Century," and to James Brown. The dedications reflect Wallen's wide musical interests, and the album itself offers some of the most original and enjoyable musical collaborations of recent years.


Track Listing: Spirit of Bilal; Captive Caravan; Sailor of the Sands; Initiation; Freedom Struggle; Resignation; Zawiya; M'allem; Exaltation; Meeting Ground.

Personnel: Byron Wallen: trumpet, shells, samples, percussion; Boujemaa Boubul: vocals, guimbri, percussion; Tony Kofi: baritone and soprano saxes; Larry Bartley: bass; Tom Skinner: drums.

Title: Meeting Ground | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Twilight Jaguar


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Good Merlin CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "This Is Nate Najar" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Conversations" CD/LP/Track Review Conversations
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "Rhythmic Movement" CD/LP/Track Review Rhythmic Movement
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 22, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.