Home » Jazz Articles » Derrick Gardner & The Jazz Prophets: Pan Africa


Album Review

Derrick Gardner & The Jazz Prophets: Pan Africa


Sign in to view read count
Derrick Gardner & The Jazz Prophets: Pan Africa
A big man with a big plan and a boisterous sextet at his back, trumpeter Derrick Gardner and his razor-fine Jazz Prophets unapologetically and unflinchingly blow the walls down with Pan Africa.

Hyperbole? Not really. Just let Gardner and company free on Jackie McLean's hopscotching "Appointment In Ghana" (from Jackie's Bag, his first for Blue Note in 1960). And feel the fever, fervor, and drive. Long time Jazz Prophet's alto/tenor saxophonist Robert Dixon, and trombonist brother Vincent Gardner speed chase the leader as each man points his horn to the skies and bassist Obasi Akoto, drummer Kweku Sumbry, and pianist George Caldwell clear the road ahead. It is a powerhouse tear through one of McLean's more daring dives into post-bop exoticism.

Born from a five-week tour in 2021 through the history and culture of the West African country of Ghana, Pan Africa then sweeps into the somber setting of Dixon's "10,000 Ships" before giving sway to Sumbry's rock n roll heart and turning the tune on its harmonized ear, resulting in the solo cries of the many individuals boarded on those ships bound for slavery. It's a bold, resounding track that mourns while still celebrating the spirit. Gardner's "The Sixth Village" finds Akoto and Sumbry playing against each other, producing a hypnotic, pan-African rhythm that gives a sure and robust bed for the horns to dance and dodge, solo, duet, trio and for Caldwell to cut loose strategically as well.

Led by Gardner's trumpet calling forth the ancestors, the haunted "Blues for the Diaspora" comes into its own sway with each player given his own time to recall and reflect. Inspired by long history of General Vicente Ramon Guerrero, the wired syncopation of "Vincente, The Afro-Mestizo" hands the spotlight to Caldwell who roams over and under the soloists, comping, calling, coursing around the otherwise warm, mellow melodies. The bold, ruminative, and highly evocative "Asian Manso. . . The Last Bath" closes Pan Africa on a more free-form note, (though free isn't the best word to use here as the song reflects on the final baths of captured Africans) but it is as open-ended as it is formed, with a soulful, triumphant swagger at the end of a story never to be forgotten.

Track Listing

Djemba Kan; Appointment in Ghana; 10,000 Ships; The Sixth Village; Highlife Suite; Blues for the Diaspora; Vicente; The Afro Mestizo; NKRUMAH ‘da RULAH; Assin Manso …. The Last Bath.


Derrick Gardner: trumpet; Vincent Gardner: trombone; Robert Dixon: saxophone, alto; George Caldwell: piano; Obasi Akoto: bass; Kweku Sumbry: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Robert Dixon: tenor saxophone; Kweku Sumbry: African percussion.

Album information

Title: Pan Africa | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Impact Jazz

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Fractal Sextet
Fractal Sextet
Blue Moka


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.