Joel Harrison, Anthem of Unity, High Note ****

Organ soaked and organic sounding with terrific groove from the great Jack DeJohnette, tenorist Gregory Tardy is as mellow as you will hear him thriving on the Gary Versace B3 generated momentum and wrapping Joel Harrison's rootsy guitar sound in a …

Published: 21 Jul 2023. Updated: 7 months.

Organ soaked and organic sounding with terrific groove from the great Jack DeJohnette, tenorist Gregory Tardy is as mellow as you will hear him thriving on the Gary Versace B3 generated momentum and wrapping Joel Harrison's rootsy guitar sound in a kind of a sonic halo on opener the title track 'Anthem of Unity'. Mainly Harrison originals plus covers of Sonny Rollins' 'Doxy,' in its wooziness even better than the stately cover of Bob Dylan classic 'The Times They Are A-Changin,' Harrison does not shy away from going straightahead in places, a routine that surely suits the taste of issuing label High Note given its long established profile just fine especially on the infectious 'Survival Instinct'. The album isn't samey at all and soloing particularly on 'Doxy' has a Wayne Krantz edge to it. Best of the originals is the pastoral feel conjured on 'Migratory Birds' where Versace adds evocative colour and DeJohnette's incredible feel is heard at its best. Tardy on 'Parvati' led off by a DeJohnette solo is another special moment as is Jack's chunky stomping motion fashioned up on the catchy 'Mohawk Valley Peace Dance'. An album that values what's essential and kicks out all that's stale or meretricious. Out today

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Balimaya Project, When the Dust Settles, New Soil ***1/2

A sweeping synthesis of African music and jazz flavours coalesce in the approach of Balimaya Project's leader djembe player, vocalist, composer-arranger Yahael Camara Onono, a band that draws on Mande material from Senegal and Mali where scooped …

Published: 21 Jul 2023. Updated: 7 months.

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A sweeping synthesis of African music and jazz flavours coalesce in the approach of Balimaya Project's leader djembe player, vocalist, composer-arranger Yahael Camara Onono, a band that draws on Mande material from Senegal and Mali where scooped up horn responses and scintillating kora runs are part of the recipe, the mellow 'A Prayer For Our Parents' just one of the early highlights. A long play listen charting themes of life rituals, migration and brotherhood keep When The Dust Settles playing rather than cherry pick given there is so much flow here and more an expansive feeling even than their earlier work Wolo So. Featured guests include Afronaut Zu , Obongjayar and Fassara Sacko. Tender ballad 'Suley's Ablution' steps out of the main style of the album and shows how much possibility there is in what Balimaya Project offer in terms of song and acts as a formidable contrast to the winning groove and motion found elsewhere. Out today

Balimaya Project, pictured, play one of their biggest concert hall dates so far with an appearance at the Barbican in London joined by a string sextet, Obongjayar and Afronaut Zu on 17 October. Photo: Balimaya Project on Bandcamp