103

Calhoun: Native Lands

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Calhoun: Native Lands The Calhoun referred to on the cover of Native Lands is Will Calhoun, best known as a drummer with the mega-selling, genre-busting but hard rock-oriented Living Colour. For some, being part of a critically and commercially successful group would mean an opportunity to live the high life. But for Calhoun it's provided the means to travel the world, studying the music of disparate cultures. And just like Living Colour's flamboyant guitarist, Vernon Reid, some would associate Calhoun with rock—but the truth is that he's always had a finger on the pulse of the jazz community.

The visibility of Living Colour has also given Calhoun a certain cachet, resulting in collaborations with jazz artists like Jack DeJohnette, Marcus Miller, and Wayne Shorter. He's even released a relatively straight-ahead jazz disc, 2000's Live at the Blue Note. But even that's not the whole story. He's collaborated with hip-hop artist Mos Def and continues to explore the meeting point of technology and tradition on projects with bassist Doug Wimbush, including Jungle Funk, their trio with vocalist/percussionist Vinx.

Native Lands is the first recording to commingle so many of Calhoun's musical concerns. Sure, some tracks lean a little more heavily one way or another, but despite its inherent eclecticism, the album hangs together as narrative whole. The acoustic quintet on Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue —featuring saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, trumpeter Wallace Roney, bassist Buster Williams, and pianist Orrin Evans—may be as pure "jazz as it gets, but even so Calhoun's kit work weighs more heavily towards the African side of the equation than Elvin Jones ever did playing it with John Coltrane.

Despite immediately shifting gears into the funk and fusion-based "Pyramids," featuring guitarist Kevin Eubanks in flat-out Hendrix mode, a general continuity of personnel ties the first half of Native Lands together. Saunders' edgily lyrical solo on the multitracked chill piece "Naked is a standout, while Roney joins him on a reading of Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti that blends ambient electronica with looser improvisational flair. Calhoun's udu drum may give "Umoja an ethnic vibe, but Saunders, Roney, Williams, and Evans suggest a contemporary jazz sensibility. Together they bring together seemingly dissimilar ideas and make them speak with a single voice.

The second half of the disc is even more catholic, from the electronica of "Emanation to the innocent folksiness of "She, with Calhoun on acoustic guitar and pandero. Calhoun's cover of Elvin Jones' "Two Card Molly, featuring saxophonist Antoine Roney and bassist John Benitez, swings hard but is quickly replaced by the pan-culturalism of "Push, Calhoun's duet with guitarist Stanley Jordan that brings together everything from drum programming and loops to Indonesian flute.

The CD comes bundled with a DVD containing informative interview footage with Calhoun and music videos based around select CD tracks and additional material. Proof that living in a diversity of musical worlds can create its own focus, Native Lands is an intriguing album by Calhoun—an eternal student who clearly views all music as world music.


Track Listing: Afro Blue; Pyramids; Naked; Nefertiti; Ancient One First Born; Tateich; Umoja; Emanation; She; Three Card Molly; Push; Dorita; East; Native Lands; Echoes of Elvin.

Personnel: Will Calhoun: drums, drum programming, loops, bass, keyboards, sonic textured ambience, acoustic flange drums, Nigerian udu drums, piano, acoustic guitar, pandero, Indonesian flute, ambient sonics, Native American double bell flute, electronic percussion; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 3, 4, 7); Buster Williams: acoustic bass (1, 7); Wallace Roney: trumpet (1, 2, 4, 6, 7); Orrin Evans: piano (1, 4, 7), electric piano (12); Kevin Eubanks: guitar and loops (2); Antoine Roney: soprano saxophone (2, 10); John Benitez: bass (4, 10, 12); Tateich Calhoun: drums (5); Marcus Miller: bass (6); Cheikh Tdiane Seck: strings (7); Stanley Jordan: guitar (11); Gregg Maret: harmonica (12); Mos Def: piano (13); Nana Vasconcelos: shakers, glass udu drum, hand drums, bells, voice and indigenous percussion (14).

Title: Native Lands | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Half Note Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Atrium" CD/LP/Track Review Atrium
by James Nadal
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review Horizonte
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Shirley Horn Live at the 4 Queens" CD/LP/Track Review Shirley Horn Live at the 4 Queens
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Roll On" CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Evolution" CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017

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.