Build an Ark

Love, Pt. 2

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Build an Ark's Love Part 2 is not a sequel to its similarly named 2009 predecessor, but a literal companion piece -- most of it was recorded during the same sessions. The large (40-plus members as of 2010) Los Angeles-based collective that crosses generations, cultures, and genres is co-led by co-founders Carlos Niño (producer and musical director), Dwight Trible (vocalist and composer), and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (arranger/multi-instrumentalist/composer). While the music contained on Love Part 1 was more song and composition-oriented, Love Part 2 is more open-ended and improvisational (do not read "self-indulgent" into that phrase). In the case of BAA and its arrangement, subtlety, musical economy, elegance, and restraint always provide more. "Cosmic Tuning," the brief opening cut, is a haunting intro featuring a three-piece string section (led by violinist Michael White) and containing Rebekah Raff's harp, a Hammond B-3, and the hint of Paul Livingstone's sitar before it seamlessly morphs into "Nature," a spacy track with a gong section, hand percussion, Jim Lang's B-3, and Atwood-Ferguson's viola. Within five minutes we are in the middle of the gorgeous sitar drone of "Ginger," where the instrument takes prominence with the same grouping from "Cosmic Tuning" offering melodic fragments, drones, and gradually shifting modes that create a spacious, comfortable place for the listener in the middle. There are four improvisations here (two short, two medium-length, each titled for the session day they occurred; in them, one can sometimes hear hints of more formal companion pieces from Love Part 1. Mia Doi Todd's psychedelic and wonderful "Say Yes!" is performed by a larger group dramatically altered by analog sonic wizardry and backmasked tapes courtesy of Niño. Her vocal -- frontwards and backwards -- is the track's guiding light. Trible leads the ensemble on a fine spiritual jazz reading of "What the World Needs Now Is Love." Not a pop song this version, but a modal, live folk-jazz workout recorded on air at KPFK with excellent vocal and instrumental improv throughout. The set closes with another song from the radio session; a killer, laid-back version of Donny Hathaway's "Tryin' Times" with Carmen Lundy and Trible duetting in front of a quintet. While this set is a mirror image of Love Part 1, it is no less forward-thinking musically and no less satisfying. It's an essential companion.

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