Speak in Tones


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This fascinating, powerfully improvisational and exotically rhythmic double-CD features the combined talents of two NYC based artists: percussionist, composer, and producer Daniel Moreno and saxophonist, composer, and producer Mike Ellis. Two years of playing together in the early 2000s at the New York underground haven 56 Walker Street with a host of top jazz, world, African, and Latino musicians has resulted in an exciting, unpredictable set that fuses the hypnotic rhythms of Bamako (in Mali, West Africa), Salvador do Bahia (Brazil), and of course, Manhattan itself. The title "Subaro" means "evening conversation" in the Bambara dialect of Mali, but this is more than just colorful musical chit chat; it's an artful mosaic of unique voices (some in African chant, some as simple as the cool trumpet melody and organ that drives the opening track "Douson Foly") and native instruments. On Disc One, these include Moreno's whistles, udus, soundscapes, kabelingoni, cajon, tabla, tambura, and timbales, plus the flute, berimbau, marimbou, and other percussion of Bira Reis. Despite the fanciful array of instruments, there's still blessed attention paid to melody and groove seduction as on the cool, strutting "Umkathi." Disc Two begins a little more abstractly, with the free-form soundscape trumpet mix of "Deusa do Ebona," which slowly draws the listener deep into the rhythmic jungle that turns electrical and edgy on "Mali Overdrive." There are less hard to pronounce instruments on this set but the cool mix of cultures still creates an exciting aural experience. Subaro is a great adventure that shows off the deep connections between American jazz and the indigenous influences of two other continents where the roots of jazz thrive.

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