Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.

I want to help

Ben Allison: Peace Pipe

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Ben Allison: Peace Pipe This is a novelty jazz recording. That does not make it a bad recording. It simply makes it a marketing and listening challenge for the more conservative jazz listener. It is a tough sell to introduce obscure instruments into the mainstream of jazz much less those foreign to anglophilic ears. The kora is an established African stringed instrument that enjoys a widespread popularity in Africa and has been used in crossover to Western popular music. When played, the sound recalls the soundtrack to Casablanca.

Having said that, the results are quite enjoyable. Allison and his merry band of musicians have made their way through challenging territory many times before, each time with creative results. Peace Pipe is no exception. One gets nowhere not taking chances and Allison take a big one here, and mostly wins.

The rhythmic character of this recording owes much to African tradition. Allison skillfully melds this influence with mainstream jazz. The inclusion of Michael Blake's saxophones and Frank Kimbrough's piano firmly hold the recording in the Western jazz realm, while the internal forces of Allison, kora player Diabate, and drummer Sarin collectively spin the music centripetally into the outer world. This generic tension affords a highly enjoyable, but idiosyncratic record.

As has been pointed out by my collegues, "World Music" is a label ethnocentriclly applied for us listeners to gain a grasp on what we might be hearing. It is a clumsy label at best. Music is music, and it is our obligation to always remember that. One of the critic's duties is to evaluate the music in the light of what listening population might find the music appealing.

It would be easy to dismiss Peace Pipe as a jazz—"World Music" crossover. But that would short change the experience of hearing this fine recording. So, addressing the more conservative ears, purchase Peace Pipe at your own risk. But, by all means, take the risk.

Track Listing: Third Rail; Slap Happy; Peace Pipe; Dakan; Goin

Personnel: Ben Allison

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Palmetto Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


  • D.A.V.E.
    Ben Allison
    The Stars Look Very Different...
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
The Stars Look Very Different Today
The Stars Look Very...
Sonic Camera Records
Union Square
Union Square
Palmetto Records
Think Free
Think Free
Palmetto Records
Little Things Run The World
Little Things Run The...
Palmetto Records
Cowboy Justice
Cowboy Justice
Palmetto Records
Kenny Garrett Kenny Garrett
sax, alto
Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
Brad Mehldau Brad Mehldau
Chris Potter Chris Potter
Dave Douglas Dave Douglas
Charlie Haden Charlie Haden
bass, acoustic
Kurt Elling Kurt Elling
Joshua Redman Joshua Redman
Bobby Hutcherson Bobby Hutcherson

Ben Allison Events

Date Event Time
Mar21Mon Ben Allison
New York, NY
8:30 pm

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus
Support our sponsor

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT  

New Service For Musicians!

Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with Premium Musician Profile.