Monday, October 04, 2010

Anthony Brown's Asian-American Orchestra - India and Africa: A Tribute to John Coltrane (Water Baby, 2010)

Drummer and percussionist Anthony Brown has led a big band for several years, recording well regarded tributes to the likes of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Turning their sights to the music of John Coltrane, the music on this album is augmented with the addition of traditional Indian and African instruments. "India: Diaspora" is a prelude to the main album with the music entering in a spacious and spare feeling. Flutes and percussion give the band a full sound that evolves into Coltrane's "India" featuring exotic stringed instruments that drone and pluck. Soprano saxophone swirls around the melody high and strong with other horns building in to riff and support. There is a thick bass introduction to "Ole" with dark toned piano and saxophone. Trumpet and swirling flute build on a foundation of strong horns, bass and drums. After a percussion duet and a re-statement of the "India" theme the band moves on to cover a couple of classic Coltrane compositions, "Africa" developing deep, throbbing bass and strong tenor saxophone over supporting horns. Strong tenor takes a very nice and deep solo over a nice bed of rhythm. The potent tenor saxophone continues on "Liberia" morphing the melody into an authoritative solo. Funky bass and drums usher in "Dahomey Dance" for a brief statement before the group turns to a reprise of the "Africa" melody and wraps things up with a nice version of Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue" which was a favorite of John Coltrane. Starting mellow and percussion heavy, the band builds the pace nicely as the horns sway over heavy fast rhythm. This was a nicely arranged album of John Coltrane's music. The addition of the extra instruments and the exotic arrangements gave the music a fresh and invigorating feel, that addend a new dimension to classic compositions.

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