All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

Anansi Trio: On The Path

Jerome Wilson By

Sign in to view read count
The concept of a sax-bass-drums trio is not a new one, but Washington, DC's Anansi Trio puts a new twist on the idea through Mark Merella playing what he calls a hybrid drum kit, incorporating conga drums, cymbals and parts of a trap drum set. This adds extra measures of bounce and groove to his playing and provides an exotic foundation for Matt Belzer's slippery saxophone and Larry Melton's deep bass to work from.

Group originals that emerge from this approach, such as "Freaks" and "On The Path," are both flexible and soulful. "Freaks" has a funky congas-and-bass rhythm reminiscent of 70's Curtis Mayfield, topped by undulating alto sax, creating a Middle Eastern groove ripe for belly dancing. "On The Path" projects a cooler Indian flavor with longer, straighter sax phrases and a subdued blend of hand-drumming and cymbal work. "Intrusive Thoughts" and "The Royal We" deal in a more urban style of funk and soul with Belzer playing short, dancing figures as Melton's bass lopes and Merella's drum kit shakes out frisky patterns. On "Altogether" Merella and Melton switch to a murmuring Africanized funk groove as Belzer plays hypnotic soprano sax. On this track in particular the three get close to the relentless, sweaty flow often conjured by percussionist Kahil El'Zabar and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.

The trio also apply their unique sound to a few jazz classics. Ornette Coleman's "Turnaround" blows through on a foundation of high-stepping bass and tricky percussion that gives Belzer the room to wail full-bodied blues. Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco" is highlighted by a boisterous percussion break and rhapsodic alto yodeling. Arthur Blythe's "Odessa" is another potent trip to the Middle East, dominated by Belzer's intense, singing alto. John Coltrane's "Africa" gets an epic treatment with a carpet of cymbal clicks, hand-drum beats and bass throbs building up tension eventually released by Belzer's soulful warbling. The closing "Bipolarity," credited to all members of the trio, actually turns out to be the rhythmic structure of Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" run into furious circles by the rhythm section while Belzer flies completely out, shrieking, singing and bellowing through his horn like Albert Ayler.

The Anansi Trio's ability to put together and embellish infectious melodies is amazing. Mark Merella's rhythmic pounding gives his two partners the space and inspiration to create a lot of deep-souled magic. These guys work wonders from the simplest of formats.

Track Listing: Intrusive Thoughts; The Royal We; Un Poco Loco; Odessa; Freaks; On The Path; Altogether; Turnaround; Africa; Bipolarity.

Personnel: Matt Belzer: soprano and alto saxophones; Larry Meltton: bass; Mark Merella: hybrid drum kit.

Title: On The Path | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Anansi Trio

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Transition" CD/LP/Track Review Transition
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 4, 2018
Read "Manhattan Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Manhattan Sunset
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Let Your Light Shine On" CD/LP/Track Review Let Your Light Shine On
by Chris May
Published: May 27, 2018
Read "UpRoot" CD/LP/Track Review UpRoot
by David Rocheleau-Houle
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Fatidic Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Fatidic Dreams
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 4, 2018
Read "The 1960 Sessions with George Duvivier and Max Roach" CD/LP/Track Review The 1960 Sessions with George Duvivier and Max Roach
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 1, 2017