Detroit-based bassist Dave Sharp and the Secret 7 ensemble he leads have found acclaim for their expansive grasp of world music, including and especially jazz: Sharp has toured jazz clubs throughout Japan and studied jazz theory and music at the New College of California with bassist Herbie Lewis, who nailed down rock-solid rhythmic bottoms for soul-jazz hipsters Les McCann and Cannonball Adderley, but has also toured with rock iconoclasts The Melvins.
Sharp began this exploration of music's various Worlds with saxophonist Chris Kaercher, who not only shares the bassist's interest in music from Africa, India, the Middle East and New Orleans but also shares Sharp's Detroit heritage from working with Motown legends The Four Topsand The Temptations. By the time they finished, their explorations included collaborations with vocalists from Canada (Jonita Gandhi), India (Parthiv Gohil) and Senegal (Cheikh Lo, who also plays drums), plus two of Detroit's top instrumentalists, pianist Gary Schunk and Walter White on flugelhorn and trumpet even, from Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, guitarist Eenor.
Sharp gets this party started with "Sherehe," abloom with African percussion, beats and rhythms that wash over your ears like warm, soft sunshine, while Kaercher's tenor sax solo rolls in and out from the island curves of Sonny Rollins' classic "St. Thomas."
Gohil's spectral vocal leads the improvised pulse-free alap (introduction to an Indian classical raga) "Return," two groaning minutes couched in dark, menacing electronic atmospherics that introduce the next tune: The majestic "Mystery Blues, which Sharp describes, with eye-opening accuracy, as "A Charles Mingus/Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan influenced minor blues featuring two Detroit legends, Gary Schunk and GayeLynne McKinney (drums)." Even if Gohil's vocal sounds more like traditional verse, it's no less mysterious or evocative; Schunk's muscular yet melodic acoustic piano honors the legacy of Detroit pianists such as Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones; and as Sharp begins to pound out a more insistently hypnotic throb about two-thirds in, Gohil's vocal completely blows their "Blues" apart.
Sharp's bass in "Sunrise" so easily keeps up with Igor Houwat's snakecharmer oud that it seems their notes tether them together. "Sunrise" blazes into an "Eastern Flame," which rises like the sun from the previous piece and like the sun burns hotter and brighter as the music raises its voice higher and higher.
"Nu Africa," which comes in various radio and DJ versions, slips along a New Orleans funk beat from the rhythm section and electric organ, the flowing liquid rhythm sound of The Meters cut by sharp horn lines, lyrics that keep it in an African groove, and White's spacewalking trumpet that burns across the heavens.
Sherehe; Nu Africa; Return; Mystery Blues; Sunrise; Eastern Flame;
Desert Sky; Kalinjar; Rain Raga; Dakar Detroit; Nu Africa – The D Mix;
Nu Africa – Nola Mix; Nu Africa – Nola Mix.
Dave Sharp: electric and upright bass; Chris Kaecher: saxophones and
flute (1, 2, 6, 7, 8); Cheikh Lo: vocals (2), drums (10); Parthiv
Gohil: vocals (3,4,6,9); Walter White: trumpet and flugelhorn (1,2);
Gayelynne McKinney: drums (2,3,4,6); Elden Kelly: fretless guitar,
cumbush (3,5,6,7); Caroly Koebel: percussion (1,5,7); Pathe Jassi:
guitar (10); Gary Schunk: piano (4,8); Atmaram Chaitanya: tamboura
(6,8); Mehdi Darvishi: Daf (5); Samba Ndokh Mbaye: Tama (2,11-13);
John Churchville: tabla (6); Jay Antani: table (8,9); Eenor: guitar
and guitarra (9); Igor Houwat: oud (5); Indrajit Roy Chowdhury: sitar
(8); Andre Frappier: lead guitar (1); Evan Perri: rhythm guitar (1);
Chris Codish: Hammond B3 (2); Duncan McMillan: Hammond B3 (3);
Prashanth Gururaja: violin (3); Eric Wilhelm: drums (12).