It would be easy to label Tenth World as a groove record, just by looking at the personnel listings and noting how percussion heavy it is. However, while there are many and varied grooves on this recorda mixture of many different African rhythms, Latin rhythms, R&B, and some recognizable jazzthe music overall is much deeper than "just groove. Sure, it can be appreciated that way, but then you would be missing much of the subtlety and plain good playing.
Individually, each of the band members have played with an impressive list of recognizable major members of the jazz community. "Bujo" Kevin Jones explains his approach this way: "Tenth World is all about achieving a highly accessible sound. Although it's jazz, you can really feel the other world music and R&B flavors underneath that. One could also easily say the opposite and proclaim this music as a mix of world and R&B with a jazz flavor underneath. No matter. The mixture is very well done, and there is something for everyone.
It has been my experience that groove musicmusic, jazz or not, that relies on a rhythmic pattern as its foundationtends to be on the simpler side. The pattern can be internally quite complicated, but the desired effect is directed toward the body, to get it moving. In doing so, things such as dynamics, harmony, the surprise of silence, and sudden twists and turns are often sacrificed to make the music "accessible. Tenth World, however, injects much that appeals to the mind.
The main characteristic that challenges the dominance of the groove is the playing of Brian Horton on various saxophones; his phrasing simply refuses to follow the rhythm's lead. The tension thus set up is quite delicious, adding much "mind spice to the "body gumbo, and whenever he plays, the jazz quotient increases exponentially. Much the same can be said for pianist Kelvin Sholar. Alas, trumpeter Kevin Louis falls prey to the rhythm most of the time, except for his solo on "Seven Steps To Heaven.
The tunes themselves, originals except for the above mentioned Victor Feldman cover, present a wide range of rhythms and feels. "Bohdisattva Wonderful Sound is based on a West African melody from Guinea, mixed with Congolese rhythms. "New Nation mixes R&B with some Latin and deep funk. "Bukoki has a Latin feel with a guajira feeling. "McCoy's Joy is happy and joyous over a two-chord vamp, while "The Untold Loreli, written by Sholar and based on a German fable, is treated here as a bachata with a bolero feel. "Seven Steps is done differently in 6/8 time, and Horton's "Beautiful has the most "American sound, including some bluesiness about it.
In the end, Tenth World succeeds as a jazz record with deep grooves. "Bujo Kevin Jones, a practicing Buddhist, views music as healing force. As he says, "There is actually a parable in the Sutras about this person called Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound who worked on saving people from their suffering through music; ultimately that is what I am about... helping others through what I do. In this respect, Tenth World most definitely achieves its purpose.