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Swiss-born reed man Tommy Meier's immersion into African jazz dips into a body of music covering three continents touched by the African diaspora of people and sound. A follow-up to Root Down (Intakt, 2008), his Root Down orchestra's The Master And The Rain, once again, offers a large ensemble update on the music of Fela Kuti and Chris McGregor, along with nine of Meier's own compositions.
The pulse of Africa is at the heart of this disc; from the opening "Ogoni," where pianist Irene Schweizer dances above the insistent tempo, the locomotion never lags. Meier pulls together the largeness of sound reminiscent of Sun Ra's Arkestras, embroidering it with turntables and sampling. This allows for bubbling cauldrons heard on "The Forbidden Land," and the scratchy/popping LP sounds of the sampled Master Musicians of Jajouka, captured on "The Master."
Meier's compositions are indistinguishable from that of Fela Kuti, his "The Forbidden Land" melding seamlessly into Kuti's "No Agreement." Similarly, Meier's pieces mesh with music from McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, with saxophonist Peter Landis following bassist Herbert Kramis' opening solo on "The Rain Part II," layering the African rhythms with a European avant sound and American jazz. Backed by the orchestra, Kramis pushes outward, maybe the space ways being his final destination. Smart, muscular music heard here.
Track Listing: Ogoni; The Forbidden Land; No Agreement; Camel Dance; The Veil; The
Root; Across The Sands; The Bride; The Rain Part II; Jackals, Children,
Everything; Invocation; Colonial Mentality; The Master.
Personnel: Tommy Meier: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, zurna, composer; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Marco von Orelli: trumpet; Co Streiff: alto and soprano saxophone; Peter Landis: tenor and baritone saxophone; Hans Anliker: trombone; Michael Flury: trombone; Irène Schweizer: piano; Hans-Peter Pfammatter: keyboards; Luca Sisera: bass; Flo Goette: electric bass; Fredi Flükiger: drums; Chris Jäger: percussion; Trixa Arnold: turntables; Stephan Thelen: guitar; Jan Schlegel: electric bass; Herbert Kramis: bass; Marco Käppeli: drums; Peter Schärli: trumpet; Andi Marti:trombone; Jürg Wickihalder: soprano saxophone; Chris Wiesendanger: keyboards.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.