Sabu Martinez

Afro Temple

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The final release of conga master Sabu Martinez is an out-in-the-psychedelic-ozone masterpiece. Featuring a politicized Martinez reciting poetry, his own manically exotic percussion ensemble, and a slew of reeds, woodwinds, and brass, this is a heady brew of poetry expressing Latino and indigenous pride, political indictments against the white man, and killer Afro-Cuban jazz. Think of Archie Shepp's Attica Blues or Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite done by Chano Pozo and you are getting the idea. The layers and layers of congas and djembe drums, the wailing saxophones à la Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, and swirling flutes played as if they were Eric Dolphy or Prince Lasha, hypnotically elocuting Martinez's poetic recitations -- after he's finished speaking. The title track is the best example of this, though it is a cut without poetry at the top. There's a mesmerizing rhythm that creates a kind of speech between the drums. The saxophones -- and I have no ideas who is playing them because this company in Italy that issued this provides no credits -- act as singers punching into the stratosphere with the cry of birds. Next, in "All Camels Hump," to a frenetic polyrhythmic orchestra of drums -- some heavily reverbed -- a pair of flutes play blues licks back and forth until they are drowned out by electronically distorted percussion. From the camels we move to the "Hotel Alyssa-Souisse, Tunisia." Here a drum kit and a choir of congas go to work as a saxophonist plays alternating lines from R&B records and Sonny Rollins solos! It's a mind-bending experience to think that someone heard music like this in his head and then went out and made it. This record is essential for any fan of Latin jazz, Vanguard jazz, Cuban music, or just plain sound. This guy went out riding the crest of a creative wave of pure genius.

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