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Jaimeo Brown – Transcendence

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Jaimeo Brown’s music on Transcendence is among the most mesmerising ever put down on record in a long time; at least since a musician delved into the heart of the universal cry of pain at the moment of triumph of human endeavour.

Jaimeo Brown - TranscendenceIt is captivating from the inside out and draws the listener into its deep song, inspired by the power of blues and gospel to such an extent that it seems to come from the very vortex of the soul. For this reason it is music that cries out of the heart of every artist who has experienced the blues—from Africa and India, to America, where the blues came to fruition in the idiom of jazz and in the music of contemporary America that is born of blues and gospel and jazz. Add to that the elemental ache of Hindustani and Carnatic music and the elements of folk music of Africa and its equivalent classic music of Europe and its becomes a powerful and fine mixture expressed by a percussion colourist so skilled in melody and harmony, as well as rhythm so as to inhabit a rarefied realm in music today. How Jaimeo Brown has discovered the mystical and magical and invisible formulae that keep his music real is a matter of mystery discovered by just a few musicians; like Charlie Parker falling into a time warp, or John Coltrane experiencing the same. What the young Jaimeo Brown will do with this new-found discovery is a matter of conjecture, but for the moment it pays to fall prey to the hypnotic charm of his music.

Transcendence is a suite that seems to begin at the moment that elemental pain transforms the mind and the heart into a Music-as-Artistic-Expression. That Jaimeo Brown has captured its essence and filtered it into a session that distils its brooding emotion calls for recognising rare ingenuity in the young drummer. To experience what this means eyes must be shut tight and the music of “You Can’t Hide” must be heard from the pulsations of the rhythm to the aching lyric; the rage of the guitar and the thunder of the drums that beat out—miraculously—the melody of the tune. And then there is the gravitas of the organ underlining the beautiful piece, which is carried on to the next tune as organically as it does as if by magic. Mr. Brown might have discovered—as Bill Laswell did in his seminal recording of Pharoah Sanders and Maleem Mahmoud Ghania, The Trance of Seven Colours (Axiom, 1994)—the intersection of the blues of the African, the African-American and the Indian—as he melds the stellar voice of the Indian classical singer Falu and his drums and the heavenly bellow of JD Allen’s tenor saxophone in “Be Free.” This becomes a magnificent introduction to the epicentre of the suite: “The Power of God,” a thunderous etude of rare and mystical beauty that features the spectral chants of Gee’s Bend Quilters, flowing like a mighty river to the rhythm of Mr. Brown’s brushes on skins and Geri Allen’s rippling fingers on the keyboard of her piano.

All this would come to naught were it not for the music’s genealogical ode, “This World” the deep song of the soul that mixes the heart-stopping lines of JD Allen’s tenor saxophone together with the nameless baritone and bellow of the blues, juxtaposed with the magical drumming of Jaimeo Brown. The heartfelt pulsations of Mr. Brown’s drumming hark back to a rhythm so primordial that it creates, quite literally, a song of music’s beginning. None of this would be possible without the superb tenor saxophone solo and the atmospheric electronics that accompany the drumming and the vocals. All of this leads to a spectral chart featuring singer Falu’s beautiful vocalastics and the rhythms of the bass aspect of the tabla blended in with the raw guitar of Chris Sholar and the howl of the tenor saxophone on “Somebody’s Knocking”. The fire of the suite is clearly lit in the interplay between Dartanyan Brown`s rumbling bass and JD Allen’s spectacular solo that gives rise to a wild and almost vocal guitar solo that melds the melodic drums into a ghostly lyric ending to this piece. This majestic music creates as much of a stir in the soul at the point when it begins, through when drummer Jaimeo Brown questions the very essence of human pain in his smokey blues throughout the suite. The magic of this music is all the more evocative because of the wonderful ensemble and a production that appears so organically bound to the music that it is almost magical.

This is what leads to the final songs in the suite and the ultimate acceptance and triumphant feelings as the emotional detachment to this very universal ache is expressed as the joy of new birth (“I Said,” “Baby Miesh” and “Accra”) and finally two powerful charts: “You Needn’t Mind Me Dying” and in “This World Ain’t My Home,” both of which extend the discovery of spiritual awakening of “Power of God”. These spiritual expressions are the elemental sonic expressions of the swish of cymbals and the rattle of drums, which are picked up by the other instruments and voices in the ensemble and thrust into musical canvas that bursts alive with magical mystical music.

Tracks: Mean World; Somebody’s Knocking; Patience; You Can’t Hide; Be Free; Power of God; I Know I’ve Been Changed; I Said; Baby Miesh; Accra; You Needn’t Mind Me Dying; This World Ain’t My Home.

Personnel: Jaimeo Brown: drums; JD Allen: tenor saxophone; Chris Sholar: guitars, electronics; Geri Allen: piano; Falu: vocals; Dartanyan Brown: bass, additional production; Marcia Miget: flute; Marisha Brown: vocals; Selah Brown: vocals; Kevin Sholar: keyboards and production; Andrew Shantz: harmonium.

Jaimeo Brown on the Web: jaimeobrown.com

Label: Motema Music | Release date: April 2013

Reviewed by: Raul da Gama

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Deo gratis…

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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