|Let's Get It||Pa||4:03|
|You Wanna Be on Top||Pa||3:27|
|B. A to the B.Y||Pa||4:32|
|Let Ya Money Stack||Pa||2:21|
|So Much Pain||Pa||3:40|
|Rockin Wit the Best||Pa||4:08|
|What You Gonna Do Today||Pa||4:38|
|Bonus Hit Em Low||Pa||4:01|
When it came time for this talented, eclectic tenor man -- a native of Guadeloupe whose parents, both award-winning authors, are a black Guadeloupean mother and a Holocaust-surviving French Jewish father -- to record his solo projects, he had a wide variety of stylistic directions to choose from. He's been in many bands with jazz superstar Roy Hargrove, including Crisol, and his extensive touring with neo-soul god D'Angelo led him to work with David Gilmore and Me'Shell NdegéOcello. But rather than draw on these professional influences, Jacques Schwarz-Bart digs straight to his roots, blending the traditional gwoka rhythms of Guadeloupe with the jazz, gospel, and soul he absorbed during a lifetime spent everywhere from the Caribbean to Western Europe and the U.S. His tenor playing is inventive and colorful, his improvisations stellar throughout, and he blends beautifully with the dense African percussion, rolling rhythms, and light female and huskier male native choirs. The musician's intention, however, is to tell a rhythmic and melodic story of the history of many styles, fusing into a contemporary narrative in a wide array of moods and modes. The result is an exhilarating, hard to classify Afro-jazz delight that defies all genre specifics but fits cozily into both jazz and world music bins. His story begins with the infectious clapping rhythms of "Papale," built on the insistent war rhythm known as mende, with Schwarz-Bart's sizzling sax played with an otherworldly wah-wah pedal. It's an odd but enticing beginning because it's like no other sax sound you've ever heard. On the title track, he plays brightly textured horn lines over more clapping, subtle tribal vocals, and densely rhythmic acoustic guitar lines. The wistful "Love" shows off the more gentle side of Schwarz-Bart's artistry, as he combines woule rhythms with a wordless Brazilian vocal by Stephanie McKay and a graceful jazz piano solo by Milan Milanovic.
This sort of jazz-meets-African vibe, colored with unexpected exotic elements, runs all the way through the mix -- with a warm, tropical stop on the "Descent" -- to the unusually toned closer "Lewoz," an odd-metered track based on the rhythm of the dead that blends woodwind and trumpet in a dance simulating the interaction between heaven and earth.
As Schwarz-Bart follows his own multicultural muse, fans of progressive jazz and various world grooves will enjoy the journey the most.
Los Grandes De La Decada collects some of the '90s most popular Latin hits, including Los Angeles Azules' "Te Necesito" and "Entrega De Amor," Los Termerarios' "Ven Porque Te Necesito" and "No Dejo De Amate," and Bronco's "Vagabundo" and "Compadre Del Alma." An entertaining look at three of the 1990s' most successful Latin artists.
The mixed German and Italian titles on the cover of this Greek release may puzzle English speakers. "Zwischen Orient und Occident" means "between the Orient and the West," while "Nell 'autunno di Bisanzio" means "in the autumn of Byzantium." Thus the "Orient" referred to is not Asia in the conventional sense in modern English but the Byzantine world, which was returned to Islamic control during the career of Guillaume Dufay.
To connect these two facts is an ambitious undertaking, and one that the groups Ex Silentio and Ensemble Arkys (instrumental and vocal, respectively) don't completely deliver on. Yet there's an angle here that few others have pursued, and serious fans of the early Renaissance should give this a listen. There are several musical connections. First of all, the fall of Constantinople to the Turks under Sultan Mehmet II in 1453 was big news, and Dufay wrote a unique Latin polyphonic song about it, sort of a chanson-motet. This is the "Lamentation sanctae matris ecclesiae Constantinpolitanae" (track 10), and it's rarely performed. Further, Western scholars fleeing the city landed in Italy and contributed a direct knowledge of Greek ideas to what became known as the Renaissance. This isn't really audible in the music here, but their contributions in pushing secular song toward the direct expression of affect were one source of later developments. There seems to be an oblique suggestion that the direct language of some of Dufay's chansons is attributable to the presence of ancient Greek ideas in the air, but even this is debatable. Without a solid direct musical influence to work on here, the performers instead include several works connected with the Council of Ferrara in 1438, an event at which Western and Eastern scholars mingled for the first time. The casual listener will hear only a range of Dufay-style Flemish polyphony, with a small, mixed-gender adult vocal group accompanied by a slightly larger and more variegated instrumental ensemble than usual, but the student trying to picture Dufay's world will be aided by this intriguing album, which is notable not least for its provenance: few Greek musicians have become involved with early music, but their potential contributions are limitless.