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Dwight Trible: Mothership

Chris May By

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Dwight Trible: Mothership
The Beatles' Revolver (Parlophone, 1966), recorded while the band were out of their skulls on high-voltage lysergic acid diethylamide, was the first masterpiece of British psychedelic rock. One of the album's highlights, the sitar-drenched closing track, "Tomorrow Never Knows," still sounds potent enough to trigger a flashback.

Remarkably, Dwight Trible's version of "Tomorrow Never Knows," on his spiritual-jazz opus Mothership, is at least as affecting, despite seemingly being recorded with one-tenth of the studio gizmos which producer George Martin used on the 1966 original. No sitar this time either, just vocals, viola, piano, upright bass, drums and percussion. And probably no acid (but do not rule it out).

From the first few bars of the opening title track, your instincts tell you that Mothership is going to be a good trip, and your instincts are right. Revolver radiated progressive mid-1960s London. Mothership radiates progressive modern Los Angeles. The band includes some of LA's finest. First among equals is tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who delivers a characteristically booting, and uncharacteristically concise, solo on "Mothership" itself. Some may wish Washington could be as disciplined on his own albums. But hey, John Coltrane got there first. "Why do you take such long solos?" Miles Davis asked him in 1956. "I don't know how to stop," Coltrane is said to have replied. "Why don't you try taking the horn out of your mouth?" said Davis.

Whatever. Washington is returning Trible's favours. The singer guested on "Malcolm's Theme" on Washington's 2015 Brainfeeder triple album The Epic and on "Fists Of Fury" on his 2018 Young Turks double album Heaven And Earth.

Other tracks, other stars. Keyboardist Mark de Clive-Lowe shines throughout, his crystalline single-note runs set off by bursts of McCoy Tyner-esque block chords. His touch here, consciously or otherwise, evokes Solenius Smith's on Shamek Farrah's spiritual-jazz masterpiece, First Impressions (Strata-East, 1974). Violist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, lysergic on "Tomorrow Never Knows," goes gospel on "Standing In The Need Of Prayer." Bassist John B. Williams, drummer Ramsés Rodriguez and percussionists Carlos Niño and Derf Reklaw provide deep-strata accompaniment on a par with Ahmad Jamal's similarly tooled up Reginald Veal, Herlin Riley and Manolo Badrena. Trible comes from the heart on all twelve tracks and never more so than on his own "Walkin' To Paradise" and "It's All About Love," Nate Morgan's "Mother," Donny Hathaway's "Thank You Master," Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Brother Where Are You?" and Horace Tapscott's "Mothership."

Leon Thomas was the quintessential spiritual-jazz vocalist until his passing in 1999. Trible, who debuted on disc two years later with Horace (Elephant)—which included a version of "Mothership"—has taken on Thomas' mantle. It fits him well. His last record prior to Mothership was Colors, an EP released in 2018 on British trumpeter Matthew Halsall's Gondwana label. The four tunes were all written by first-generation spiritual-jazz auteur Pharoah Sanders and included Sanders' signature piece, "The Creator Has A Master Plan," which he recorded with Thomas in 1969.

Trible has performed with Sanders and there are rumours of a co-headlined album down the line. That would be a treat and a half. Meanwhile, Mothership is seventy-two minutes of bliss.

Track Listing

Mothership; It’s All About Love; Mother; Brother Where Are You?; Standing In The Need Of Prayer; Song For My Mother; Tomorrow Never Knows; Thank You Master; Desert Fairy Princess; Walkin’ To Paradise; These Things You Are To Me; Some Other Time.

Personnel

Dwight Trible: vocals; Mark de Clive-Lowe: piano, Hammond organ (8, 10); John B. Williams: double bass; Ramses Rodriguez: drums; Kamasi Washington: tenor saxophone (1); Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: viola (4, 7, 9, 12); Maia: harp (5, 9); Carlos Niño: hand percussion (1, 2, 5, 7); Derf Reklaw: percussion (1, 2, 5).

Album information

Title: Mothership | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Gearbox Records

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