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Kakalla: The Seeds of Analog Rebellion

Florence Wetzel By

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The Seeds of Analog Rebellion is the outstanding new CD by Kakalla, a Massachusetts-based quartet that successfully blends jazz and electronics. And not only: Kakalla's influences include traditional and modern Bulgarian music, Greek rembetika, Albanian folk music, and rock n' roll. Kakalla incorporates these apparently disparate genres into music that's thoroughly original and genuinely exciting.

A good example of how Kakalla seamlessly combines its influences is "Maleficient Oblations to a God of Benevolence (composer Thomson Kneeland's gift with song titles rivals Mingus'). The song combines hard bop energy with Balkan rhythms and a bass solo reminiscent of chamber music. There's also the excellent "The Ghosts of Dirty Laundry, which interweaves a languorous trumpet, a funky guitar riff, and electronic squigglings.

It would be a mistake, however, to view Kakalla's music as an intellectual exercise because their songs also possess great emotional depth. "From These Hands, Sadness Flows is an open-hearted meditation, with beautiful trumpet work by Jerry Sabatini. Another gem is the haunting ballad "The Sea, The Bells, where Sabatini's trumpet is majestic and dignified, supported by a delicate shimmer of electronics that mimics the lapping of waves.

Kakalla's magic comes in part from plain old hard work. The group—bassist and leader Thomson Kneeland, drummer and percussionist Mike Connors, trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, and Nate Radley on guitar and electronics—performed weekly at a Massachusetts club for four and a half years, giving them ample opportunity to work on the subtleties of their music and develop a group dynamic. The Seeds of Analog Rebellion is the fruit of their labors and it's a must for listeners seeking out the frontiers of jazz.

Track Listing: Sir Charles

Personnel: Thomson Kneeland?: acoustic bass, electronics; Mike Connors?: drums, percussion; Jerry Sabatini: trumpet (except 7); Nate Radley?: guitar, electronics (except 6); Jason Hunter: tenor sax on 2

Title: The Seeds of Analog Rebellion | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Weltschmerz Records

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