Vernon Chatlein is bringing Peace Love Music to the world via the Netherlands, via the Dutch Antilles, via Cuba, where his heart seems to lie. And so it should for Mr Chatlein is steeped in the Afro-Caribbean tradition that he appears to have inherited from his ancestors. And from the music on this fine record, he is certainly more than a musician; he is a healing force in addition to being a force of nature. In keeping with this his music is conceived in the vortex at the centre of this universe and, with a visceral energy all its own, draws you in with a churning, surging and irresistible power.
At the same time, the music that is on this album – a suite meant to show algebraically, and thus magically – how power not only exists in the ecstatic churning of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, but also in the calming, almost hypnotic voice of prayer that Mr. Chatlein seems to want to offer in supplication at the start of each of the three principal movements of this suite. One might be tempted to dismiss the brief narratives that introduce each of the movements but a modicum of restraint is highly recommended, despite the fact that one could easily imagine how his Lucumi is practiced in a novel way here even as the “Oru Seco” followed by the chants of the “akpwon” is present in Part II of Mr Chatlein’s suite albeit in a wonderfully spectral sense.
In an attempt to re-imagine the imaginary journey from the Santeria to the ancestors of Jazz, Vernon Chatlein has created a wonderfully mellifluous stream of music that has room for a saxophone, an electric bass, piano and keyboards. And each is on level terms with the polyrhythms of his drums and the preternatural percussion of Nils Fischer, who has been initiated into the Lucumi via a baptism of fire of his own. In Part III of the suite, Mr Chatlein’s vocals are subsumed into the chants of Vanta completing what Mr Chatlein has set out to do, which is to unite his deep African experience with his universal-ness, in a hypnotic narrative accompanied solely by the bàtá and drums.
An ecstatic version of “Telele” performed entirely as a chant, complete with call and response and tumbadora, motoring on as if in a comparsa, and two sublime versions of classic songs – “El Manisero” and “Con Alma” complete the experience of this disc by Vernon Chatlein, an uncommonly talented musician, composer, and percussion colourist steeped in the spiritual origins of all music.
Track List: Peace (The Journey): 1 – Telele; 2 – Danza pa Baila; Love (The Antidote): 3 – A Goddess Scorned; 4 – Illusive Dream; 5 – Hilltop dr. s; Music (The Omnipresent): 6 – El Manisero; 7 – Con Alma; Telele (Reprise).
Personnel: Bernard van Rossum: saxophone and vocals; Aki Spadaro: piano and keyboards; Humberto Albores Martinez: bass and vocals; Nils Fischer: congas, bàtá and percussion; Vernon Chatlein: percussion, congas, bàtá and vocals; Featuring Marieke and Femke Smit: vocals (on Peace [The Journey] and Danza pa Baila); Wigbert Martina: okónkolo (on Peace [The Journey]); Vincent Houdijk: vibraphone (on Peace [The Journey]; Dudok Kwartet – Strings (on Peace [The Journey] and A Goddess Scorned); Raquel Brown: vocals (on Illusive Dream); Vanta: vocals (on Music).