Personnel: Asante (drums, percussion); Benito Gonzalez (piano); Joe Ford (saxophone); Gavin Fallows (bass); The Okyerema Asante Drum Group.
Recorded at Mapleshade Studio, Upper Marlboro, Maryland on SEptember 5-6, 2000. Includes liner notes by Pierre Sprey.
The problem with being a jazz purist is that jazz was never really pure. Jazz was always multicultural -- back when King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton were starting out, early Dixieland was influenced by everything from blues, ragtime, and gospel to European classical to African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms. So instead of trying to hide jazz's multicultural nature, musicians should celebrate it -- which is what Asante does on Bringing the Flame Home: From Havana to Africa. Asante, a drummer from the African country of Ghana, is joined by Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzales as well as saxophonist Joe Ford (of Fort Apache Band fame), bassist Gavin Fallow, and various percussionists. Together, this group of African, Latino, and American musicians examines the African/Latin/Caribbean connection in jazz. The music is, for the most part, instrumental post-bop, but it is post-bop that makes extensive use of African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms. Everything from calypso to Afro-Cuban guaguanc¢ to Dominican merengue to Ghanian rhythms is fair game for these improvisers, whose multiculturalism always sounds organic rather than forced or contrived. And why shouldn't it? African rhythms had a major influence on Latin and Caribbean music, both of which ended up influencing jazz as well as a lot of modern African pop. Recorded in 2000, Bringing the Flame Home isn't innovative -- back in the '60s, there were plenty of post-bop and hard bop artists who showed their appreciation of African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms. Nonetheless, this is a lively, unpredictable CD that will appeal to anyone who likes his/her jazz with a big dose of world music. ~ Alex Henderson