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Barrett, Martin, and the Wayward Shamans: Alchemy

This album was originally recorded in 2003 and has been reissued under a different distributor. Drummer Martin Barrett recorded the album at various locations in West Africa and South America, incorporating local traditional drummers with US and Cuban jazz players including Dave Carter, Craig Flory (wind), Alex Veley (keys) and Kevin Hudson (bass). Martin's inspiration was an earlier piece of field research and he has adapted both religious and folk themes into this collage of music drawn from six countries across three continents. The 14 tracks include both pure instrumentals and songs with a variety of structures from simple minimal compositions to fiery jazz combos.

For example, the opening piece is a medium paced instrumental with sax and steel drums providing highlights; trumpet and keys raising the tempo toward the end. The location moves to Africa for "Liberation", with an exotic hand drum and soft electric piano flirting with the understated wah-wah guitar. Chanted vocals supplement the song and create a cool vibe, ala Stevie Wonder. Mellow sax carries "The Malecon" along on a river of organ and piano with hints of Weather Report and Chick Corea recalled. "Nigerian Oil" is a political statement with rap-style vocals over a steady rhythm enhanced by a variety of drums and a wandering electric guitar. These are all fairly upbeat pieces; "Sublight" and Soul Osmosis, in contrast, are gentle minimal arrangements, the first having a relaxing hypnotic rhythm whilst the second has a catchy repeated sax figure and a tendency to get excited at the end.

Percussion featured on the album include the Brazilian Atabaque (a conga), Ghanaian, Brazilian and Garifuna (from Belize) hand drums, the Cuban Bata and Gamelans together with a number of marimbas and other tubular instruments. Martin has done an excellent job in writing these influences into the compositions which retain a Western ethic whilst promoting the inclusiveness of world music through the local flavours which rise to the fore at strategic points in the arrangements. The club jazz of Maria Santeria and the more focused tributes to Senegal and Belize on "Garifuna" and "Sketches" amply demonstrate the breadth of the collection. Other highlights are the growling baritone sax lead on "The Conjuror" and the dreamy keyboards of "Vision Vibe".

Track Listing
1. Agbadza
2. Liberation
3. The Malecon
4. Nigerian Oil
5. Cardomble 1
6. Sublight
7. Soul Osmosis
8. Maria Santeria
9. The Conjuror
10. Garifuna
11. Cardomble 2
12. Sketches of Senegal
13. Vision Vibe
14. Deus ex Machina

Added: March 18th 2009
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Fast Horse Recordings
Hits: 1501
Language: english

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