Thursday, April 24, 2008

Various Artists - Spiritual Jazz (Jazzman, 2008)

Spiritual Jazz is a compilation album, and an interesting corollary to the classic albums of the sub-genre by the likes of Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane. While there's nothing on this disc on a par with the music made for Impulse Records in the late 60's and early 70's, the playing is of a high standard and the groove is palpable. James Tatum's “Introduction” leads off the music, with solid hard bop giving way to an austere spoken invocation. Lloyd Miller's “Gol-E-Gandom” is introduced by an obscure string instrument before settling into a powerful modal groove, while “Paul's Ark” leans toward bass led hard bop. ”Ayo Ayo Nene” has chanted vocals over solid musical accompaniment, sounding like a lost recording from the Ethiopiques series. Salah Ragib keeps the ethnic groove with a fine mix of jazz with a Middle Eastern influence. “Afrikan in Winter” has spoken word vocals over percussion heavy music. There's actually more of an Afrocentric vibe rather than spiritual, and that theme pervades much of the music. The liner notes are extensive and very well written, but suffer from being written in a microscopic font. While the music here is not essential, it is interesting especially for fans of kozmigroov jazz.

Send comments to: Tim