Ahmed Abdul-Malik: Jazz Sounds of Africa (2003)
Subsequently, Abdul-Malik was recruited for the 1961 Village Vanguard sessions to augment the Eastern essence of John Coltrane's "India." That same year, The Music of Ahmed Abdul- Malik was released, followed by 1962's Sounds of Africa. Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder, both sessions are packaged together here as Jazz Sounds of Africa.
The '61 session is the more majestic for its deceptive simplicity. Commencing with the crisp sound of "young" Brooklyn drummer Andrew Cyrille's cymbals and snare, an intriguing rhythm is set up for the captivating instrumentation of "Nights on Saturn." Bilal Abdurrahman plays an unknown Korean reed instrument off the still modern sounding percussion to alert the listener of things in store. "La Ibkey" has Cyrille drumming in 7/4 while oud, trumpet and cello alternatively solo in a disparate signature. "Oud Blues" is as its title suggests, while "Don't Blame Me" places Scott front and center over a wonderfully restrained drum and bass rhythm for an uncommon example of early jazz cello. "Hannibal's Carnivals" and "The Hustlers" begin with a West African Highlife welcome that soon gives way to the straight ahead sax of Basie tenor man Eric Dixon. Both pieces stylistically oscillate and present a multicultural celebratory feast.
Remaining cuts continue the previous year's explorations with a greatly expanded rhythmic feel, courtesy of percussionists Montego Joe and Chief Bey. "Communication" bears special mention for its extended trance-like percussion workout, while "Suffering," the CD closer, is timeless. A hypnotic brass and percussive rhythm is joined by Abdul-Malik's driving bass as Calo Scott plays an out-of-tune violin. Rupert Alleyne's flute lends a distinctive African feel and then gives way to a halting oud and ensuing trumpet. Scott then brings things full circle in more ways than one. With this release, these historically important and presently influential sessions have finally been given their due.
This review originally appeared in All About Jazz-New York .
Track Listing: 1. Nights on Saturn (Abdul-Malik) - 7:34 2. The Hustlers (Abdul-Malik) - 5:34 3. Oud Blues (Abdul-Malik) - 4:09 4. La Ibkey (Abdul-Malik) - 5:52 5. Don't Blame Me (Fields/McHugh) - 7:28 6. Hannibal's Carnivals (Abdul-Malik) - 4:40 7. Wakida Hena (Abdul-Malik) - 3:53 8. African Bossa Nova (Abdul-Malik) - 6:00 9. Nadusilma (Abdul-Malik) - 4:00 10. Out of Nowhere (Green/Heyman) - 5:00 11. Communication (Abdul-Malik) - 9:46 12. Suffering (Abdul-Malik) - 5:13
Personnel: Andrew Cyrille - Drums; Tommy Turrentine - Trumpet; Montego Joe - Bongos, Conga; Bilal Abdurrahman - Clarinet, Percussion, Reeds, Darbouka; Ahmed Abdul-Malik - Bass, Oud; Rupert Alleyne - Flute; Chief Bey - African Drums; Taft Chandler - Tenor Sax; Rudy Collins - Drums; Eric Dixon - Tenor Sax. Calo Scott - Violin, Cello Richard Gene Williams - Trumpet
Record Label: Fantasy Jazz