|Rainbow Country positively brims over with good intentions 'We are the world.'
And many of its titles "The Mysterious Charm of the Right Wing", "Rainbow Country (dedicated to little Elsa Khalfi)", "Missing Person (lost in Rainbow Country)", "I Wonder (Dedicated to Ray Barretto & Miguel 'Anga' Diaz)", and, yes, "9/11" assert the existence of a political and broadly humanistic heart that beats inside this instrumental music.
But turning to the actual music, while the influences of Africa, America, and Latin America, are abundantly strong, individual solo statements range from brief to non-existent, and this is doubly disappointing in a recording that features several good jazz musicians like Bob Stewart, Reggie Washington, and Eric Person.
For the record, there's little to fault in these idiomatically correct song performances in fact, there's plenty to enjoy about these mostly folk-based, rhythmic vamps.
For example, there's the additive rhythmic patterns of African music in Bob Stewart's "Nonet"; the stressed Latin rhythms in "Naima's Tango"; and the intimate ecstasies of Bourbon Street that Duke so masterfully celebrates in "Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies (Dedicated to New Orleans)", but the group's overall brief, low-energy renditions (the longest track is 9:22, and the shortest is 1:39) are, I hate to say, consistently underwhelming.
The real problem's that this Joris/Stewart CD sounds and feels like mere replay of the pioneering, and still largely unacknowledged contributions made by the late and great Don Cherry to world music.
At this point in history/time, so much is already replay, but if we really are to move forward and make things better, artists have to do their part, and do more.
It's not enough to be political and idiomatically correct.
by David Fujino March 2008
Eric Person alto & soprano saxophones
Bob Stewart tuba
Fabian Fiorini piano
Reggie Washington electric bass
Chris Mentens double bass
Baba Sissoko tamani, tama, ngoni, vocals
Junior Mthombeni congas, udu & woodblocks, sticks, voice & rattles
Chris Joris timba, cymbals, djembé, likembé, congas & ashiko, steelpan, metal percussion, jew's harp