The Wire - 12/00, p.66
"...From his first slow, honeyed notes it's immediately clear that he's on majestic form here. He's in inspiring company....a meditational devotional set..."
CMJ - 8/14/00, p.30
"...A classic quartet sound, while the playing...reflects a deep knowledge of the jazz tradition without losing the adventurous precepts of improv..."
Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio: Kahil El'Zabar (drums, percussion); Ari Brown (soprano & tenor saxophones, piano); Malachi Favors (bass).
Additional personnel: Susana Sandoval (spoken vocals); Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone).
Recorded at Riverside Studios, Chicago, Illinois on December 17-18, 1999.
Includes liner notes by Neil Tesser.
On Africa N'da Blues, Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio is joined by tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders -- and the group couldn't have asked for a more appropriate guest. Like drummer/percussionist El'Zabar, he is a very flexible musician who is comfortable with both inside and outside playing. Sanders' resum‚ includes everything from composing ethereal, gorgeous post-bop melodies to embracing the most blistering and atonal of free jazz on John Coltrane's post-1964 albums. Nothing on Africa N'da Blues could honestly be described as free jazz; this post-bop date generally favors an inside/outside approach and is more inside than outside. Most of the material, in fact, is quite melodic, this is true of "Pharoah's Song" and the title track (both written by El'Zabar), as well as performances of Coltrane's "Miles' Mode" and the standard "Autumn Leaves." Coltrane, of course, is Sanders' primary influence, and Ritual Trio members El'Zabar, Ari Brown (piano, tenor and soprano sax), and Malachi Favors (bass) are also big admirers of his work. The Coltrane who influenced this CD isn't the atonal Coltrane of 1965's Om but rather, the more accessible post-bop Coltrane of 1960-1964. Thanks to Sanders' participation, Africa N'da Blues is arguably the strongest album that Ritual Trio recorded for Delmark in the 1990s. ~ Alex Henderson