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Ches Smith / We All Break: Path of Seven Colors


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Ches Smith / We All Break: Path of Seven Colors
In his group We All Break, drummer Ches Smith puts together a robust hybrid of the rhythms of Haitian Voudou music and the free- flowing impulsiveness of modern jazz. The basic music and lyrics of the songs here are based on traditional Haitian melodies. The group builds from that foundation, starting with the tangled interplay of Smith and three Haitian drummers, Daniel Brevil, Markus Schwartz, and Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene. Jazz improvisation is stirred into the mix by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, pianist Matt Mitchell and bassist Nick Dunston. Occasional vocal chants led by Brevil and Sirene Dantor Rene complete the overall sound and the result is a vibrant and thrilling collaboration.

As you would expect with four drummers, there is an emphasis on furious percussive rhythm on pieces, like "Here's The Light," where lyrical chanting and intense sax and piano solos sail over a throbbing beat but there are also other types of songs here as well. "Leaves Arrive" starts out with plaintive call-and-response vocals dusted with faint piano notes. Then handclaps come in and increase the tempo and Zenon's alto leads the group in a frantic up and down dance. "Lord Of Healing" begins with Daniel Brevil's hypnotic singing drifting over Mitchell's gentle piano, then gathers steam through slowly accelerating choral chants before the tempo explodes and Zenon goes off on another tear.

"Women Of Iron" and "Path of Seven Colors" have no vocals, allowing the instruments to really work together. On "Women" the drummers lock into a mechanical but combustible pattern supported by pounding piano chords leading to another maddened alto flight and Mitchell's own jangling solo turn. "Path" follows a similar course as it emerges from dramatic piano banging supported by arco bass and drums. In addition to all this, the CD package also includes a recording of an earlier 2015 version of We All Break that just featured Smith, Mitchell, Brevil and Schwartz and where the piano had an even more forceful lead role.

Voudou music and jazz improvisation blend together beautifully here. All the elements sound great. The intricate drumming is dazzling, the singing is quietly powerful and Miguel Zenon and Matt Mitchell sound totally committed to the spirit of this work. Zenon, in particular, plays with a slippery glee reminiscent of Ornette Coleman in the Prime Time era. This project shows that two particular types of music can be often more alike than different.

Track Listing

2015: An Opening; Reds; Country Line; Dagger; Ibo; Notions of Purity; Six A.M.
2021: Woule Pou Mwen; Here's The Light; Leaves Arrive; Women of Iron; Lord of Healing; Raw Urbane; Path of Seven Colors; The Vulgar Cycle.


Album information

Title: Path of Seven Colors | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Pyroclastic Records




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