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Cape Town Shuffle: Live At Hothouse

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Album Review

From Albert Ayler to Sun Ra to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, spirituality has long played a major role in avant-garde jazz (as well as a lot of modal post-bop). And there is no shortage of spirituality on Cape Town Shuffle, which was recorded live at the Hot House in Chicago in 2002 — alto/tenor saxman Ernest Dawkins and his Windy City-based New Horizons Ensemble thrive on it. In fact, the 19-minute "Third Line and the Cape Town Shuffle" finds the band's trumpeter, Ameen Muhammad, doing a simulation of the type of sermon one would hear in an African-American church (possibly Southern Baptist, possibly AME). Dawkins doesn't give Muhammad that vocal spot in order to convert listeners to Protestant Christianity; rather, he does it to acknowledge that Christianity is part of the black cultural experience. And that affection for black culture is evident throughout this CD whether Dawkins is incorporating elements of African music on "Toucouleur" (which gets its name from a tribe in Senegal) or celebrating the contributions of Eric Dolphy and Thelonious Monk on the 12-minute "Dolphy and the Monk Dance." Rap, meanwhile, is acknowledged on "Jazz to Hip Hop," which features vocalist Kahari B. The tune isn't really a fusion of jazz and hip-hop — instead of rapping in a hip-hop style, Kahari offers a spoken word performance. His words do, however, address the importance of hip-hop as a cultural idiom. Cape Town Shuffle isn't for bop snobs, but those who appreciate an inside/outside approach to avant-garde jazz will find these performances to be quite enriching.

Cape Town Shuffle: Live At Hothouse, Ernest Dwakins'
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