Monday, June 8, 2015

Felipe Salles, Ugandan Suite, with David Liebman

The music on today's post is of a very ambitious sort, a suite of music combining jazz and traditional African strains, very successfully so. Felipe Salles and his Ugandan Suite (Tapestry 76023-2) is no joke. It is serious composed-improvised music for sextet.

I am one who has long favored African-jazz meldings, and not just because I am a percussionist-drummer by persuasion who also plays other instruments. It is because the rhythmic complexities of the African mainland lend themselves well to the modern jazz ethos when done properly. Here we do certainly have that.

Felipe Salles composed the music and plays tenor, baritone, flutes and bass clarinet; David Liebman plays wooden flute, soprano and tenor. The two-horn tandem often enough has important composed melodic material and both solo in ways you would expect from Liebman, but also very well for Salles too. Nando Michelin has a fundamental role to play on piano and solos idiomatically and very nicely. The three-person percussion-drum team lay out an excellent rhythmic counterpoint. Damascus Kafumbe and Rogerio Boccato excel at the hand percussion; Bertram Lehmann does a great job on the trap drums. Finally Keala Kaumeheiwa has a central role on acoustic bass, laying down ostinatos with just the right leverage and sometimes playing a melodic role in the compositional passages.

The suite comes at us in five movements. It is a rhythmically vivid, compositionally inventive and soloistically exceptional work and recording. It makes me smile every time I hear it. It will no doubt do the same for you, so grab a copy if you can. An Afro-jazz triumph!

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