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 Julian "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 Tops
and 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.
Track Listing: Sherehe; Nu Africa (The D Mix); Return; Mystery Blues; Sunrise; Eastern Flame; Desert Sky; Kalinjar; Rain Raga; Dakar Detroit; Nu Africa (The D Mix Radio Edit); Nu Africa (Nola Mix); Nu Africa (Nola Mix Radio Edit).
Personnel: Jay Antani: bells, ghatam, shells, tabla; Atmaram Chaitanya: tamboura; Indrajit Roy Chowdhury: sitar; Chuck Mauk: drums; John Churchville: tabla; Chris Codish: Hammond B3; Mehdi Darvishi: daf; Eenor: guitar, baritone guitar; Andre Frappier: guitar; Jonita Gandhi: vocals; Parthiv Gohil: vocals; Prashanth Gururaja: violin; Igor Houwat: oud; Pathe Jassi: nylon string guitar; Chris Kaercher: flute; alto, baritone, soprano and tenor saxophone; Elden Kelly: electric guitar, glissentar; Carolyn Koebel: bells, cajon, congas, doumbek, percussion, shaker; Cheikh Lô: drums, vocals; Samba NDokh MBaye: tama; Gayelynne McKinney: drums; Duncan McMillan: Hammond B3; Evan Perri: rhythm guitar; Gary Schunk: piano; Dave Sharp: electric bass, upright bass, fretless banjo, fretless bass, acoustic guitar, Hammond B3, ride cymbal; Walter White: flugelhorn, trumpet; Eric Wilhelm: drums.
Year Released: 2014
| Record Label: Self Produced