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Kaseko Revisited (Kotabra)

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Album Review

Over the years, jazz has been combined with an incredibly wide variety of world music — Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Caribbean, Andean, African, Middle Eastern, Jewish, Slavic, Indian, Japanese, you name it. Sonny Rollins is famous for his jazz/calypso amalgams; the late Swedish pianist Jan Johansson was applauded for his jazz interpretations of traditional Scandinavian and Russian folk songs. But one style of music that has received very little attention from the jazz world is Surinamese music — that is, music from the South American country of Suriname (formerly known as Dutch Guyana). Kaseko Revisited: Kotabra is Fra Fra Sound's jazz-minded tribute to Surinamese music — especially kaseko, a form of music that is popular in that country. Kaseko is something that bassist Vincent Henar, Fra Fra's founder/leader, knows a lot about — his family is from Suriname, and even though he has lived in the Netherlands for decades, Henar has continued to be influenced by Surinamese music. Henar's enthusiasm for kaseko serves him well on this 1997 release, which emphasizes vocals (in contrast to Fra Fra's many instrumental recordings), and contains plenty of lyrics in the Sranantongo language. Musically, Kaseko Revisited: Kotabra is quite a revelation. There are parallels between Fra Fra's jazz/kaseko fusion, and the way other artists have fused jazz with Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean and African music; someone who listens to a lot of salsa, calypso, merengue, or West African pop should have no problem appreciating kaseko, or getting into Fra Fra's jazz-minded acknowledgment of the style. And yet, this CD underscores the fact that kaseko has a character and personality of its own. Kaseko Revisited: Kotabra doesn't cater to jazz purists any more than it caters to kaseko purists; rather, it offers a risk-taking jazz/Surinamese hybrid, and it is one of Fra Fra's most impressive albums.


Formed: 1980 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Although not as well known in the United States as they are in parts of Western Europe, Fra Fra Sound is a Dutch jazz institution and has been active in the Netherlands since the early '80s. Fra Fra has also recorded as the Fra Fra Big Band, which is essentially Fra Fra Sound with more musicians and an expanded, more elaborate lineup. But whether they're calling themselves Fra Fra Sound or the Fra Fra Big Band, the Amsterdam-based outfit has a reputation for being adventurous, unpredictable, and...
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Kaseko Revisited (Kotabra), Fra Fra Sound
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