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Paul Carlon Octet: Roots Propaganda

Chris M. Slawecki By

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"I am interested in combining all roots music," explains saxophonist, bandleader, composer, and educator Paul Carlon. "Not necessarily to make a point, but because I love it all. So I'm trying to take these disparate elements and put them into a jazz context." Carlon continues, "That was the idea behind Roots Propaganda. We need some propaganda for this kind of music."

"This kind of music" boasts a uniquely powerful and genuine Afro-Cuban spirit thanks to its percussive rhythms, twin trombone engine blasts (from Ryan Keberle and Mike Fahie), and marvelously complementary vocal accents from the exotic Christelle Durandy, born in France to parents from Guadalupe and Madagascar.

Recorded and mixed in New York City and Sao Paulo, Roots Propaganda is ambitious in concept and execution. The primal "Ochun" starts on the ground floor, solitary saxophone singing its traditional melody then introducing a tribal vocal chant with accompanying flute and percussion. The dynamic opener "Backstory" lifts you several floors higher, as its percussion and horn charts dance together in lusty Latin rhythm. Though it ebbs and flows, "The Most Beautiful Thing" is constantly energized by the crackling rhythms from drummer William "Beaver" Bausch and percussionist Max Pollak.

Carlon's "The Limiter" caps the summit: An acoustic piano trio sketches the opening, then drummer Bausch shifts into a steady rocking four as pianist John Stenger dashes from corner to corner to fill out the sketch, calling in horns and other instruments to nurture a full Latin jazz orchestra which blossoms from its opening sketch.

Carlon even simmers two blues into his meaty Afro-Cuban stew. The trombone brightly leads an instrumental cakewalk through "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" that burns with true Afro-Cuban spirit, with music that's sometimes a little wobbly and blue but always full of energy and promise too. As the title track dies down, its embers erupt with fiery tongues of Latin brass into the "Hard Times Killin' Floor Blues," an exquisite genre-melting segue that genuinely captures the authentic Latin, jazz, and Latin jazz spirits of Carlon's Roots Propaganda muse.

"I don't want to beat people over the head with being deep," Carlon admits. "I want to have a good time, and I want the audience to have a good time whether they catch all the details or not."


Track Listing: Backstory; Canto de Xango; Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out; Mambo pa' Kanoa; New Life The Limiter; Ochun; Moro Omim Ma; The Most Beautiful Thing; Roots Propaganda; Hard Times Killin' Floor Blues; Yorubonics.

Personnel: Paul Carlon: tenor and soprano sax, flute; Anton Denner: alto sax, flute; Ryan Keberle: trombone; Mike Fahie: trombone; William "Beaver" Bausch: drumset; Christelle Durandy: vocals (1, 8, 12); Max Pollak: rumbatap, body percussion, vocals (4, 7); Pete Smith: guitar (12).

Title: Roots Propaganda | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Deep Tone Records

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