TriBeCaStan is a mythical kingdom or mystical state (or both) founded by John Kruth and Jeff Greene, built upon music brought within its walls from Western China, Cuba, Morocco, Uzbekistan and just about any and every where else. For New Deli, their second official "state communication," TriBeCaStan's population expands to include Claire Daly, baritone sax ace for Taj Mahal (and previously, James Brown); ska trumpeter Johnny Turner; and Bruce Huebner, master of the pentatonic bamboo Japanese flute.
"As we say in TriBeCaStan, 'If your toes all face one way, you will walk crooked,'" Greene suggests. "This means we must be in solidarity with all of the world to find the right direction. If you dig around in the '60s and '70s in music from India, Thailand and Ethiopia, you hear how the musicians borrowed from and reworked American music. We're just doing the same thing, but in reverse."
"We've not only been inspired by world-class global musicians like Bachir Attar of the Master Musicians of Jajouka, Carnatic mandolin master U. Rajesh, and the Austrian hurdy-gurdy virtuoso Mathias Loibner," Kruth explains, "we invited them to play as guests on New Deli!"
You can pick out of this unique pan-cultural tapestry jazz threads from rewoven tunes by Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, but there's almost no way for mere words to justly address the breadth and depth of this journey through TriBeCaStan.
Recorded at Bill Laswell's studio, Kirk's "Freaks for the Festival" holds high the banner for this ensemble to march behind. Horns shuffle in a New Orleans rhythm while the drummer and percussionists rock a more Latin groove, further enhanced by Kirk alumni Steve Turre's steamy trombone solo. "Two for Ornette," a medley of Coleman's "Dee Dee" and "Theme from a Symphony," dances toward the Caribbean on percussion, strings and Turre's bleats on shells, while a solitary horn counterpoints back toward New Orleans. This electronic treatment of Cherry's "Guinea" sounds like another world trapped someplace between ancient and modern times. "The Mystery of Licorice McKechnie," a disconnected string of percussion, synthesizer and alto sax, sounds as close as you can come to a crazy Sun Ra tune performed by someone other than Ra.
"Daddy Barracuda" and "(One Day) His Axe Fell Into Honey" slice up even more tasty Deli. A loping sing-along that rolls on wobbly vibes, "Daddy Barracuda" is a lot of fun and proves that while TriBeCaStan is quite serious about pan-ethnic musicality, it's not overly serious or too impressed with itself. "(One Day) His Axe..." collectively claps out its rhythm on percussion, bells and drums, while the flutist plays more rhythm than melody, sounding for all the world like a bird defiantly warbling right into the teeth of the rhythm. Their percussion/flute breakdown before the richly grooving organ solo, then the recessional vocal chant, combine to make this clever, engaging and funky.
Song for Kroncha; Louie's Luau; Freaks for the Festival; Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood; Dive Bomber; A Crack in the Clouds; Bed Bugs; Jovanka; Daddy Barracuda; Two for Ornette (Dee Dee / Theme from a Symphony); Guinea; (One Day) His Axe Fell Into Honey; El Bumpa; The Brain Surgeon's Wife Serves Lunch; The Mystery of Licorice McKechnie.
John Kruth: mandolin, banjo, mandocello, flutes, whistles, harmonica, zither, royal benju, hufusi, lead vocals; Jim Clouse: soprano sax; Bob Musso: vocals; Dave Dreiwicz: electric bass, acoustic bass, vocals; Scott Metzger: guitar, vocals; Steve Turre: trombone, shells; Boris Kinberg: conga, timbales, bongos, cowbell, rub board, maracas, shaman rattles, triangle, finger cymbals, vocals; Todd Isler: drums, hadgini, frame drums, lap drum, uduboo, vocals; John Turner: trumpet, vocals; Claire Daly: baritone saxophone; Kenny Margolis: organ, accordion, clavinet, harpsichord, electric piano, vocals; Bachir Attar: ghaica; Matt Darriau: kaval; Jerome Desigaud: mobeke; Bruce Huebner: shakuhachi; Tine Kindermann: saw; Mattias Loibner: hurdy gurdy; Tami Lynn: vocals; Chris Morrow: trombone; U. Rajesh: electric mandolin; Badal Roy: tabla.