876 - Frank London's Shekhina Big Band "Scientist at Work"

Frank London has been threatening for years to make a record like Scientist at Work. It's funny, but it took the help of John Zorn in the role of re-producer to make that happen. Scientist at Work was originally issued on a private label in 1999 in a very small print run. Earlier this year, Zorn was given access to the tapes and completely re-worked the material by remixing, editing, and adding substantial overdubs to the original. The result sounds more like a collaboration, though London's original voice is never sacrificed. All hype aside, this is one of the finest records to ever come out on this label, and may be the finest moment of London's very illustrious career thus far. London serves not only as composer and trumpeter here, but also as conductor of the Shekhina Big Band, which includes such downtown luminaries as Matt Darriau, the late Thomas Chapin, Rufus Cappadocia, Newman Baker, and Danny Blume, just to name a few. The guests include Cyro Baptisata, Jennifer Charles of Elysian Fields, Mark Feldman, Jamie Saft, Erik Freidlander, and Zorn himself on one track. While there isn't a mediocre second on Scientist, "Fela," for Fela Kuti, with its huge front line horn section and Lagos-style rhythmic interlocutions that drive a multi-part harmonies between the horns into overdrive, is a true standout. It's funky, greasy, infectious, and full of the almighty groove. Other tracks are moodier, coming out of the underside of traditional Jewish canonical music. They are layered through with sounds and overlaid strings droning in the foreground with horns flanking them. In the case of "Shabbos Bride," Jennifer Charles floats in a shimmering contralto slightly above the whispering instruments to dramatic and moving effect. But singling two tracks out of seven hardly does a recording like this justice. Suffice to say that this is a poetic as well as musical masterpiece, and London and Zorn have gone a long way in creating a virtually new music out of the heart of the Jewish folk tradition. Highly recommended. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

* Daniel Sadownick
* Conga

* John Zorn
* Sax (Alto), Executive Producer

* Rufus Cappadocia
* Cello

* Jamie Saft
* Keyboards, Engineer, Mixing

* Thomas Chapin
* Flute (Bass), Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor)

* Pablo Aslan
* Bass

* Newman Baker
* Drums

* Cyro Baptista
* Percussion

* Danny Blume
* Guitar

* Jennifer Charles
* Vocals

* Matt Darriau
* Clarinet, Clarinet (Bass), Shenai, Ney

* Mark Feldman
* Violin

* David Fiuczynski
* Guitar

* Erik Friedlander
* Cello

* Hearn Gadbois
* Percussion

* David Licht
* Surdo

* Frank London
* Trumpet, Arranger, Main Performer, Producer, Conductor

1. Alef
2. Notreve
3. Golem Khosidl
4. Fela
5. Shabbos Bride
6. Imanu Malkheteynu
7. Pesakh Nign

The music of trumpeter Frank London could be characterized as a product of "Radical Jewish Culture," a term coined by John Zorn that refers to post-Holocaust generations of Jews discovering on their own terms the meaning of their faith. London has spent the past couple of decades at the ancient intersections of Jewish, Middle Eastern and African music, and on "Scientist at Work" he continues to revel at the crossroads, informed by a Downtown sensibility that is at times sonorous and at others jagged. Judging from London's music, Radical Jewish Culture is restless, intelligent and obsessively inclusive -- it is also hip and very funky.

Backing London on "Scientist at Work" is his Shekhina Big Band. The band -- whose name means Divine Presence or Inspiration, in Hebrew -- is not your average big band. Driven by a load of African and Middle Eastern percussion instruments, it also boasts a pair of electric guitars, some strings, a bunch of horns, the occasional voice and pretty much lives up to its lofty name.

"Alef" -- the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, as opposed to Alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet -- also happens to be the first track on the album. The tune takes its time to unwind, seemingly deciding its form as it progresses, and features a murky keyboard and pensive trumpet recalling Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way." "Notreve" reveals the dark inspiration of Davis' "Bitches Brew" and finds London's trumpet distinctly more aggressive. Listening to this music, one imagines Davis savoring the flickering warmth of his final resting place, a flash of satisfaction in his eyes as he hears himself alive once again and traversing new ground. Meanwhile, Fela Kuti, the father of Afro Beat and scores of children, who likely has a toasty seat close to Miles, must be pleased to hear the outright homage, "Fela," a rollicking caravan of a tune that stays true to the form of Afro Beat until exploding with a saxophone solo that sounds like a screaming beast caught in a hunter's net.

On "Golem Khosidl," perhaps the album's most moving piece, the low-end percussion echoes like bones being rapped against hollow logs. The word Golem means "bum" in Hebrew -- not a homeless person, but someone who does nothing to redeem himself -- while Khosidl likely means "Hasidic." Driven by the rhythm section and a hypnotic guitar line, the tune slowly uncoils, while a violin, trumpet and woodwinds snarl and scream with increasing intensity until the band finally unites to state a melody of soaring beauty.

With the established popularity of Klezmer, many people now recognize Jewish music as having broader appeal than, say, the quirky songs of the early 20th-century Yiddish Theater. Pushing the music ever further, Frank London continues the traditions of the past with an eye to a funkier future. By TOM BOJKO

4 commentaires:

EdkOb a dit…

Un alboume rare, tant il capte la musique du monde.
Mieux, le souffle du monde.
Ce Big Band là est plus que de la musique, et Frank London va provoquer chez les passantEs des émotions qui n'ont rien de superficielles, qui sont en nous depuis toujours, que nous avons parfois oubliées.
La musique nous ramène à la Vie.
Les hommages rendus à quelques grands "anciens" (Fela, Miles Davis,....) ne sont que des prétextes pour créer une oeuvre qui pulse, comme un coeur.

Donc, fortement recommandé.
Avis d'passant.


rickdog a dit…

Find more Frank London in my mp3blog and forum searches:


EdkOb a dit…

Thanx rick

Anonyme a dit…

muchas gracias por votre bon "travail"