219

Kahil El: Transmigration

John Barron By

Sign in to view read count
Kahil El: Transmigration Over the years, master percussionist, composer and bandleader Kahil El'Zabar has become something of an adopted son to the Aquitaine region of France. For two months each year El'Zabar teaches, conducts workshops and leads concerts throughout the region. In the spring of 2005, the Chicago resident traveled to Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, to record his 39-piece Infinity Orchestra during a series of concerts at the National Theater of Bordeaux. The resulting disc, Transmigration, is a monumental musical celebration of multi-cultural optimism in gargantuan proportion.

El'Zabar's compositions, co-arranged by Robert Irving III, are perfectly suited for the extra-large orchestra involved. The orchestral setting creates an enormity of sound that is quite astonishing. The sparse harmonic structures and economical use of melody allows for extended improvised space with effective and thoughtful ensemble passages.

The opening cut, "Soul to Groove, features an incessant hip-hop groove complete with DJ turntable scratching, James Brown inspired guitar riffs, and brilliant bursts of improvised emotion from tenor saxophonist Arnaud Rouanet. The sudden orchestral swells at the end of the piece, create an element of tension that is left unresolved.

The lengthy "Speaking in Tongues features among other things, the only El'Zabar solo on the disc. Twice during the piece, at the beginning and towards the middle, the dynamic percussionist showcases his mastery of the African Balafon. After the drawn-out and carefully developed modal theme, tenor saxophonist Karlis Vanags, trumpeter Piero Pepin, alto saxophonist Benoit Berthe and fifteen year-old clarinetist Jean Dousteyssier contribute heartfelt, brazen solos. The high-energy mood suddenly shifts to meditative and ethereal on the title track. The melancholic orchestral swells underneath the fiery passion of Rouanet's intense tenor explorations have an exhilarating effect.

The funk-laden "Nu Art Claiming Earth is the recording's most ambitious utilization of the full orchestra. El'Zabar commandeers the ensemble with a tight fist; cueing amusingly precise stops and starts. The piece begins with a rap in French by Bindi Mahamat who, with passion, conveys the potential for art and culture to conquer the evils of the modern world. Trombonist Guillaumme Pique plays an intense solo over the growing eruption of sound—a highlight of the disc.

The final cut, "Return of the Lost Tribe, is an updated version of El'Zabar's 1978 composition and showcases inspired solos by alto saxophonist Ernest Dawkins and trombonist Joseph Bowie—both members of El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.

Overriding themes such as mutual respect and freedom of expression resonate throughout the diverse musical nature of Transmigration. El'Zabar's music speaks in bold terms about the capacity for positive cultural advancement through the arts.

Track Listing: Soul to Groove; Speaking in Tongues; Transmigration; Nu Art Claiming Earth; Return of the Lost Tribe.

Personnel: Kahil El

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Tangofied III" CD/LP/Track Review Tangofied III
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Rekihndled" CD/LP/Track Review Rekihndled
by Doug Collette
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "Red Nation "1"" CD/LP/Track Review Red Nation "1"
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Playgrounds" CD/LP/Track Review Playgrounds
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Electric Ascension" CD/LP/Track Review Electric Ascension
by John Sharpe
Published: October 5, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!