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Album Review

Soothsayers: Soothsayers Meets Victor Rice & Friends

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Soothsayers: Soothsayers Meets Victor Rice & Friends
Nobody does it better, so the song goes, though whether the innuendo resonates most strongly with the singer, Carly Simon, or the lyrics's supposed protagonist, James Bond, depends, as it were, on the direction in which the listener is pointing. But whatever. In the context of Soothsayers Meets Victor Rice & Friends, the song's hook becomes a strapline for the deep-strata musical blend of cultures and ethnicities which London seems to do more convincingly than any other city in the world, including New York.

And in London, trumpeter Robin Hopcraft and tenor saxophonist Idris Rahman's band Soothsayers does it better than anyone else, with the possible exception of keyboard player Kishon Khan's Lokkhi Terra.

Soothsayers mix up jazz, conscious reggae, dub and Afrobeat; Lokkhi Terra swaps reggae and dub for Bengali and Cuban music. But the border between the two bands is porous, and there is often an intermingling of personnel. Khan, for instance, is heard on Meets Victor Rice & Friends, Soothsayers' tenth studio album, as he was on its immediate predecessor, We Are Many (Wah Wah 45s, 2020).

When it comes to making the lame not just walk but dance, however, Soothsayers is the hands down, no contest, shoot for the stars, hundred per cent winner. This latest little masterpiece is further proof of that. It was recorded for the most part in Brazil, where Hopcraft and Rahman (brother of pianist Zoe Rahman) worked with bassist and dub virtuoso Victor Rice and drummer Bruno Buarque in 2019, shortly before the pandemic hit. The basic tracks were later fleshed out with overdubs recorded in Brazil and London by the aforementioned quartet plus Khan, guitarists Joao Erbertta and Andrew Gibson and percussionist Satin Singh.

Unlike previous Soothsayers' albums, Meets Victor Rice & Friends is purely instrumental. Side one consists of four tracks; side two of the same tracks in dub. Side one boasts sterling solos from, in the main, Hopcraft and Rahman; side two is music's way of doing its recreational bit for global warming. It is the tops, it is the Mona Lisa, to end more or less where this review began, with a song.

Track Listing

Flying East; Last Days; The Slow Life; Effra Nights; The Slow Life Dub; Flying East Dub; Last Days Dub; Effra Nights Dub.

Personnel

Robin Hopcraft: trumpet; Idris Rahman: saxophone; Victor Rice: bass, electric; Bruno Buarque: drums; Joao Erbertta: guitar; Satin Singh: percussion; Andrew Gibson: guitar, electric; Kishon Khan: keyboards.

Additional Instrumentation

Robin Hopcraft: trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone; Idris Rahman; saxophones, flute.

Album information

Title: Soothsayers Meets Victor Rice & Friends | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Red Earth Records

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