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.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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