Kahil El'Zabar / Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio

Follow the Sun

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A 2013 set from Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio, Follow the Sun finds the Chicago-based group allowing plenty of space for vocalist Dwight Trible -- he appears on two-thirds of the album's nine songs -- and also saxophonist Duke Payne, who plays some bagpipes as well. These additions hardly obscure the essence of the trio. Rather, they accentuate the group's skillful, restless blend of creative jazz and Afrocentric soul. Perhaps the greatest signal of the band's range is how Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" is followed by Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands," the two appearing after an El'Zabar original called "Great Black Music" -- that title feels like the umbrella under which all of the drummer's musical inspirations and aspirations fall. If the album never coalesces into a grand statement it might be something better: a lively, soulful collection of adventurous music that never fails to pay homage to its tradition as it searches for a way forward.

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