Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

14

Chris Washburne: Rags And Roots

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
The year 1917 stands out in music history, for that was the year of the first jazz recording, (Livery Stable Blues by Original Dixieland Jass Band) and marks the death of ragtime pianist/composer Scott Joplin. To commemorate these events, and the century that ensued, trombonist Chris Washburne takes a musical exploration back through time on Rags And Roots, revealing the connections and contributions of not only America, but Haiti, Cuba, Mexico, and Brazil, in the early development of jazz.

Scott Joplin is considered the "King of Ragtime Writers," so it is apropos that this project commences with his most famous composition "Maple Leaf Rag." But this is not the usual ragtime interpretation, Washburne renovates the piece as an enticing arrangement with a Dixieland inclination, vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles offering the rarely sung lyrics with an energetic delivery. On this initial outing, trumpeter Alphonso Horne trades solos with Washburne, as clarinetist Evan Christopher weaves perfect nuances into the mix. Charles is joined by Gabriela Anders to sing on the "St Louis Blues/The Peanut Vender" medley, a brilliant merger of the classic blues song with the Cuban rumba "El Manicero," in a perfect example of "the Spanish Tinge," so often mentioned during the jazz incubation period. The music probes the Caribbean influence on Louis Moreau Gottschalk's famed "Bamboula," written in honor of the drum circles of Congo Square, New Orleans. Pianist Andre Mehmari construes that vintage New Orleans atmosphere, allowing the brass and reed to depict how the African rhythms also seeped into the aristocratic dance halls of the period. We must mention here the impeccable work of bassist Hans Glawischnig, who along with drummer Vince Cherico maintain the music on course through complicated tempo variations and cerebral arrangements.

South African vocalist Vuyo Sotashe is featured on the spiritual "Here's One," where Washburne's intentional utilization of a forgiving tempo is a perfect vehicle for the singer. Joplin is revisited with "Solace (A Mexican Serenade)" as the cross-cultural traditions in his music are evident in the mariachi tinted horns propelled by a sharp Cuban syncopation. Another Joplin piece, the somber "Picture Of Her Face," has Charles again in the vocalist role, the song performed as a lamentation. The Washburne original "Mildly Entertained," is his spin on Joplin's "The Entertainer," from the movie "The Sting," and is the perfect showcase for his bandmates to show their collective chops.

The festivities move to Brazil on "Odeon," composed by Ernesto Nazareth, who was prolific in Brazil at the same time as Joplin in America. This song is in the tango brasileiro style, portrayed with plenty of rhythm and panache. Haiti is represented with "Ala Cote Gen Fanm" a unique number which combines Vodou sensibilities with folkloric Rara music. Written by Gerard Dupervil and originally recorded by Jazz Des Jeunes, with male oriented lyrics, Charles sings in Haitian Creole (Kreyol) and converts the song into a feminist anthem, in arguably, the most challenging track on the record. "Lissette," continues the Haitian current, and is a pensive ballad performed in an infrequent trio setting comprised of piano, clarinet, and trombone. They return to New Orleans for "Creole Belles," a celebratory sensation back in its day, now a stimulating reinterpretation where Sotashe makes a welcome reappearance on vocals. The project culminates with "Strange Fruit," the poignant song so notably associated with Billie Holiday, yet Charles steps up to the vocalizing task, as they take this into dark dirge terrain, as the song merits. Washburne chose this song with the purpose of dedicating it to those jazz musicians whose lives were impacted by racism.

Chris Washburne and his accompanists appropriated ragtime as a springboard, undertaking the daunting task of extracting and transforming the jazz roots found in blues, and in vast Pan-American influences, into another semblance. That Washburne is a doctor in ethnomusicology, is evident by his thoughtful selections, and quest for details, revealing a profound knowledge of the subject matter. This project intentionally spans a century in the history of jazz with its many offshoots and variations, all performed at the highest level of musicianship, yet accessible to the contemporary audience.

Track Listing: Maple Leaf Rag; St. Louis Blues/The Peanut Vendor; Bamboula; Here’s One; Solace ( A Mexican Serenade); Odeon; Picture Of Her Face; Mildly Entertained; Ala Cote Gen Fanm; Lisette; Creole Belles; Strange Fruit.

Personnel: Chris Washburne: trombone; Alphonso Horne: trumpet; Evan Christopher: clarinet; Andre Mehmari: piano; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Sarah Elizabeth Charles: vocals (1, 2, 7, 9, 12); Vuyo Sotashe: vocals (4, 11); Gabriela Anders: vocals (2).

Title: Rags And Roots | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Zoho Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alleviation CD/LP/Track Review Alleviation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Last Minute Panic CD/LP/Track Review Last Minute Panic
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Murphy CD/LP/Track Review Murphy
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Haberdashery CD/LP/Track Review Haberdashery
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Song of the Silver Geese CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Silver Geese
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Live at Kolarac CD/LP/Track Review Live at Kolarac
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "Gateway" CD/LP/Track Review Gateway
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "We're All Gonna Die" CD/LP/Track Review We're All Gonna Die
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Shadow Work" CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Unit[e]" CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Seaside" CD/LP/Track Review Seaside
by John Eyles
Published: January 30, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!