First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11
Written by John Metzger
While his former pals from The Doors have been busy trying to live in the past, drummer John Densmore has opted to extend his legacy into the future. Taking a globe-spanning approach, his latest project Tribaljazz is, at first glance, a huge departure from anything he ever has done. Yet, the inclusion of a playful, salsa-infused rendition of Riders on the Storm helps to make the outing, as a whole, more accessible. Overshadowed by its close cousin La Tormenta, the reinvented classic rock tune isnít one of the most effective tracks on the set. Nevertheless, it successfully highlights the notion that the rhythmic drive lurking beneath the surface of Tribaljazzís songs is, at its core, the same as that which originally propelled The Doorsí material.
Tribaljazz began on a whim when Densmore and saxophonist/flautist Art Ellis collaborated at a concert that was meant to raise funds for the music program at their childrenís school. As the group extended its reach to include pianist Quinn Johnson, bass player Osama Afifi, and percussionists Miguel Rivera and Christina Berio, it quickly developed a life of its own. Rather than firmly entrenching itself within a particular niche of the jazz community, however, the ensembleís self-titled debut is as eclectic as the outfit is ethnically diverse.
Throughout its eponymous endeavor, Tribaljazz skips from the ethereal wispiness of Skytrails to the delightfully breezy Vegetable Wizard and from the perky ebullience of Orange Midnight to the more traditionally minded Blues for Bali. In the process, it conjures a space where Stan Getzís work with Antonio Carlos Jobim and Jo„o Gilberto can collide with John Coltraneís legendary Africa/Brass sessions. Yet, as both Michael Frantiís hip-hop-inflected contribution to Violet Love and Alfre Woodardís beatnik rap on The First Time (I Heard Coltrane) suggest, Tribaljazz is more than just a retro-minded dalliance that rearranges the classics. Because the group has attempted to incorporate such a wildly diverse array of styles into its repertoire, the hour-long set is more akin to a pilot for a television program than it is to a fully realized series. Yet, the ensemble cast is so well attuned to one another that itís only a matter of time until the groupís vision comes to fruition.
Tribaljazz is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box