Surinam Music Ensemble

No Kiddin'

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Arguably, the name Surinam Music Ensemble is somewhat misleading. That sounds like the sort of name one might expect from an outfit that plays traditional Indian ragas, or perhaps Arabic or Iranian/Persian music. But No Kiddin', the band's third album, is a mostly instrumental jazz CD that has one hand in electric fusion and the other in acoustic post-bop. Of course, there have been countless improvisers who combined jazz with Indian or Middle Eastern elements -- and Surinam does, in fact, have world music influences. But not world music as in Arabic, Indian, Turkish, or North African -- world music as in Caribbean, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian. Surinam liked to call their music "paramaribop," which is a fancy way of saying that they play jazz that contains a lot of marimba solos (thanks to Jeroen Goldsteen, who is also a vibist) and looks to different parts of the Caribbean and Latin America for inspiration. It would be inaccurate to say that No Kiddin' (which was recorded in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1989) is totally fusion or totally post-bop because this disc owes something to both; there are times when Surinam brings to mind Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, or Cal Tjader, and there are times when they bring to mind the Yellowjackets, Weather Report, Pat Metheny, or Spyro Gyra. In other words, they keep their options open -- which is why Glenn Gaddum is heard on both acoustic piano and synthesizers, and why Pablo Nahar is heard on both electric and upright bass. It all comes down to what a particular song calls for. No Kiddin' falls short of remarkable, although it's a respectable, noteworthy example of what the underexposed Surinam Music Ensemble was up to in the late '80s.

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