The inventiveness to cope with difficulty lies at the heart of Work Songs, the follow-up to drummer Jaimeo Brown's outstanding 2013 release Transcendence (Motema). The syncopation of hammers on nails forging railroad tracks and weary chants of laborers are mixed with progressive blues, rock, jazz, and hip hop influences to create a patchwork that's soulfully compelling. Brown and co-producer/guitarist Chris Sholar deftly integrate sampled field recordings with scintillating performances from jazz saxophonists JD Allen and Jaleel Shaw, blues singer Lester Chamber and new talents such as keyboardist Big Yuki.
Hardship is not confined to a specific people or location and Brown and Sholar cast the geographic net from American prison settings and cotton fields in "Hidden Angel" and "The Valley" to "Safflower" a Japanese folk song that contains entrancing vocals, keyboards and Jaleel Shaw's fluent alto. Brown's playing is explosive or nuanced to fit the need and moments such as JD Allen's fierce solo in "Lazarus" while quoting the Disney tune "Whistle While You Work" are improvised perfections. Though the music juxtaposes voices from the past and present, electronics and live instrumentsBrown and Sholar suggest that they are simply a conduit for expressing the human condition in turning bad situations into something more bearable. Like its predecessor, Work Songs is another captivating and thought-provoking journey.
Track Listing: Hidden Angel; Mississippi; Lazarus; Safflower; Be So Glad; Happy Serving; 2113;
Moment of Rest; For Mama Lucy; Stonemason; Paterson; The Valley.
Personnel: Jaimeo Brown: drums; Chris Sholar: guitar; Jaleel Shaw: alto saxophone; JD Allen:
tenor: saxophone; Lester Chambers vocals; Marisha Rodriguez: vocals; Lester
Chambers: vocals; China Pettway: vocals; Mary Ann Pettway: vocals; Larine
Pettway: vocals; Revil Mosley: vocals; Cadence Brown: vocals; Falu: vocals; Big
Yuki: keyboards; James Francies: keyboards; Marcia Miget: flute.