AKRON/FAMILY: Meek Warrior (Young God Records) - Akron/Family are obviously a talented bunch with a wide range of musical interests, but I’ll readily admit that I’ve only had a limited appreciation for their previous work. I’ve enjoyed their folk ragas and their free music moments, but have found the hippy-folk/prog aspect of their varied sonic attack and their sometimes overly wrought vocals to be less appealing. Fortunately, their emphasis seems to be more on the aspects of their sound that I like on this somewhat short (only 35+ minutes) CD. Aided by a stellar cast of guest players (including percussionist extraordinaire, Hamid Drake, and an assortment of players on a variety of horns), they throw everything in their sonic arsenal, including the kitchen sink, at you right from the opening track, “Blessing Force”, which has acid folk segments, free rock segments and free jazz segments. There’s also a great folk raga, “No Space In This Realm” and, “The Dolphin”, is another solid and fairly raucous track. Still not uniformly successful, but always interesting, challenging and, ultimately, a rewarding listening experience.
RAGAB, SALAH (AND THE CAIRO JAZZ BAND): Ramadan In Space Time LP (Art Yard) - Ragab is a seminal figure in Egyptian jazz, forming the first jazz big band in Egypt (The Cairo Jazz Band) in 1968 and he was also the leader of the Military Music Department in Heliopolis. The music here is very similar to that of the great Ethiopian composer, musician, and band leader, Mulatu Astatke, combining African rhythms, scales, and instruments (including the nay and the baza!) with American jazz (and, to a lesser extent, soul). It is, however, a little less well executed and suave, as the compositions sound a little more “by the numbers” (especially on the A-Side), than Astatke’s best work. Still, if you’re into such things, as I am, this is a pretty cool slab of heretofore unknown (at least to me!) Afro-Jazz.
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Running Count For The Year
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Oh, and as always - FUCK GRAWER at KFJC!!!!!