Very left-field and pretty stimulating although patchy overall. When it's good it is extremely good.
The word innovative is bandied around too often but this is innovative with a capital I. The vision of cornetist-vocalist-multi, multi, hyphenate (let's just say, auteur and be done with it), Ben LaMar Gay, and given the risk involved in being so experimental not everything works. But that doesn't actually matter because you get the drift and you know you won't have heard anything like this ever. Within this sprawling studio production LaMar Gay is credited for contributing cornet, voice, organ, balafon, synths, temple blocks, programming, just for starters. With a range of players including notably cellist Tomeka Reid the majority of the compositions are solely Gay's.
Recorded back in March in a Chicago studio the buoyant 'Aunt Lola and the Quail' with its bespoke almost konnakol undertow and big bass drum feel contrasts with the more linear vocal on 'Oh Great Be The Lake'. I liked the Matthew Davis tuba line introducing 'Dress Me In New Love' a lot and the driving alert beat cooked up in the rhythm section operating in tandem. 'Touch Don't Scroll' is excellent for groove and the Reid feature on 'In Tongues and in Droves' ingeniously weaves elastic strangulated voice with Reid's cello lines in quasi-operatic fashion. The chant of 'S'Phisticated Lady' featuring Gira Dahnee and Angel Bat Dawid is a bit of fun. But the best is kept to last with La Mar Gay Olu Dara-like and happening on the superb 'We Gon Win'. Guaranteed to free your soul flaws and all. SG. Out today