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Album Review

The extraordinary South African bassist Johnny "Mbizo" Dyani, who died in 1986, had been a regular member of the New Jungle Orchestra, a Danish band led by Pierre Dorge that meshed jazz and African music, and this album was recorded in tribute to him. When the band gets cooking, the confluence of West African (particularly Ghanaian) melodies and solos stemming largely from the free improvising tradition can be fresh and exhilarating. Dorge has a unique approach to his guitar work, stressing limpid, singing tones that sound almost more like a trumpet than a stringed instrument, and he's assembled a strong supporting cast, including Harry Beckett and avant-garde veteran John Tchicai. Previously, the band had sometimes suffered from a rhythmic anemia, but on this recording Dorge wisely imported the fine Chicago drummer Hamid Drake (making one of his earliest recorded appearances), and he goes far in keeping the music alive and pulsing. Unfortunately, the melodic material itself doesn't have quite the intoxicating irresistibility of the better pieces on the prior record, Even the Moon Is Dancing (with the exception of the delightful "Root Eating Rag"), so the listener is left a little bit unsatisfied relative to what might have been. Still, it's an enjoyable session and one worth hearing.

Johnny Lives, New Jungle Orchestra
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  • 11,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 01 January 1987

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