I guess it might be a misnomer to call this cutting-edge music since it was actually recorded over a decade ago, but if you’re interested in experiencing something a little different in jazz, you might want to sit up and take notice. A new release from Jumbie Records, The World Is Not Your Home, provides listeners with an opportunity to stretch their musical education in a different direction.
The David Rogers Sextet was a group put together by – surprise – David Rogers, a sax virtuoso who at that time had already spent extensive time exploring jazz from around the world, especially West Africa. That fascination for the music led him to form his sextet and make these recordings. (In the decade since, his interest has even led him to live in Africa and completely immerse himself in that continent’s musical culture.)
Rogers recruited a number of talented jazz artists for these recordings, including pianist Craig Taborn, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and Marion Hayden on bass. He also brought in multiple-instrument wizards Mark Stone, who plays everything from vibes to conga, and Derek Bermel, a force on clarinet, xylophone, and a few others.
Combining the talents of skilled instrumentalists with Rogers’ compositions makes for an exciting and unusual listening experience. Whether it’s the title track, which merges a deceptively simple, traditional jazz opening (with nice clarinet work from Bermel) into a percussive African sound, or the whimsical second track, “Don’t Drop That Coffin!”, this album entertains in a big way.
Most of the pieces have at least a hint of African influences, some more than others. “Oboo Ketua Nyom” (“Little Stone Song”) starts softly with Rogers’ soulful sax, then flows into a feast of rhythm and percussion delights. “Mobius Trip” is – not surprisingly, given its name – a tune that twists and turns but cycles around in a fascinating loop, and is probably the closest thing on the album to a traditional jazz piece.
My least favorite track, “The Merciful Ones,” is meant to be in the style of a medieval chorale, but with its slow, moody bass beginnings it takes some time to get to where its going. On the other hand, the last piece, “La Isla De Reyes,” was probably my favorite, at least in part because I’m always a sucker for a Latin beat and its Afro-Cuban rhythms were intoxicating.
Good stuff, and highly recommended. If the music appeals to you (clips below) you might want to further explore not only David Rogers but other artists involved in interpreting the sounds of jazz from around the world.