TRACKLIST & AUDIO
ALL ABOUT JAZZ USA
SEATTLE TIMES USA
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
THE OREGONIAN USA
2015 – WR4667
Official worldwide release date – October 23, 2015 on Whirlwind Recordings Ltd
(Under license for resale from Whirlwind Recordings Ltd)
The Kora Band, an ensemble which integrates the uniquely entrancing timbre of the kora — a traditional 21-string harp from West Africa — into a jazz context, present their third release New Cities and first for Whirlwind. The new album showcases a suite composed by pianist and bandleader Andrew Oliver commissioned by the 2012 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works program.
ANDREW OLIVER – Piano
KANE MATHIS – Kora & Vocals
CHAD MCCULLOUGH – Trumpet
BRADY MILLARD-KISH – Bass
MARK DIFLORIO – Drums
10 in stock
|All Music Guide USA||
Kicking off this set “The Contract” might give the listener the idea that this is “world music,” which in a sense it is since Mathis’ expertise on the kora evokes a variety of moods often sounding at times, and to the untutored listener, like a rapidly oscillating cross between Mexican mariachi and Greek rebetiko. Combined with its African roots, this kora-led music effortlessly crosses continents with dizzying alacrity.
Chad McCullough’s trumpet hook on “Bière La Gazelle” sounds tantalisingly close to the first bar of Bach’s “Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring,” this lively number soon evolving into a latin-esque outing. The twin horns configuration (trumpet and clarinet) and tricky timing on “5 Ans D’Effort” give this track a more distinctly jazzy feel, all underpinned by Oliver’s exploratory, rapid-fire piano work.
A fleeting burst of kora leads into the slow-paced “Teriyaa” where Mathis sings his own plaintively impassioned West African lyrics on the only vocal track on the album. When Mathis is at full pelt on the kora, the sound he produces is uncannily similar to the electric harpsichord flourishes on Terry Riley’s masterpiece A Rainbow In Curved Air. Chad McCullough overshadows all on “Specialists in Some Styles” with Mark DiFlorio plays calabash here rather than drum kit, thus offering-up some very apposite percussive subtlety.
“Slip Coach (for Chet)” again features Lee Elderton with a lithe clarinet solo. The title track is the longest at just over ten minutes with Chad McCullough leading the serpentine melody and Andrew Oliver introducing some brilliant piano skirmishes. The ballad, “Old Countries” concludes this intriguing set.
It would be tempting to introduce all sorts of comparisons to others playing either West African music or jazz, but in truth The Kora Band doesn’t really sound like any other group. This is an amazing feat, in a century supersaturated with music of every hue, and a convincing testament to the innovative sound of a jazz band successfully incorporating non-Western traditional instruments.
|Bebop Spoken Here UK||
A 2008 US State Department sponsored tour of West Africa encouraged Oliver to form a band with the kora – a twenty one string African harp – at its heart. Kane Mathis – one of America’s foremost kora players – accepted Oliver’s invitation to join the band and three albums later New Cities is representative of current and ongoing developments. An eight track CD, with a running time of fifty three minutes, stately elegance permeates the entire work.
Old song melodies and African harmonic patterns proliferate; The Contract andTeriyaa – the latter featuring the album’s sole vocal contribution from Kane Mathis – exemplify the lyrical, uplifting nature of the music. All of the music was composed by Oliver and he is, no doubt, delighted by the commitment shown by the members of his band. Lee Elderton, clarinet, is heard on two tracks only, but his part in the project is well worthwhile. Check out his playing on Slip Coach (for Chet). The title track New Cities highlights the group dynamic with all of the musicians making an excellent contribution; elegant, stately, from Brady Millard-Kish’s bass intro to Mark DiFlorio’s consistently good drumming to Chad McCullough’s trumpet flourish taking it out.
New Cities is an accomplished work.
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