“You have to be careful what you say to Carlos, because he makes it happen!” says, Dwight Trible and that’s the truth…
It was only a few years ago that Dwight turned up as a guest on Carlos’ (one half of Ammoncontact) Spaceways Radio show. Now Dwight’s got his debut Ninja Tune album out this week with the Life Force Trio, a gig at the Jazz Caf?© and festival appearances at Montreux Jazz Festival (with the Heritage Orchestra), the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Dour Festival in Belgium.
And it’s the lead track from the 12“, ‘Equipoise’ that reaffirms that Dwight (along with a bunch of West Coast luminaries) are the stars, “you are”. However, like you, ever since the 12″ came out, I’ve been looking forward to hearing the album. In fact, ever since Carlos told us about Horace Tapscott (with whom Dwight worked), I’ve been looking forward to this album. Carlos and Dwight are the modern day equivalent of Richie Cole and Eddie Jefferson, remember how good Eddie was on ‘New York Afternoon’ in the eighties?
‘Freedom Dance’ is a fine example of what I imagined that album would be like. Deep funk with jazzy keys and ‘Roy Ayers’ vibe solo and Dwight on top form singing, “Put freedom in your soul, everybody dance with me, we’re doin’ the Freedom Dance to the universal groove’. Liberate me indeed.
However, the album turns out to be so much more than a jazz vocalist with 40 years’ experience teaming up with some youngsters (Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Madlib, Daedelus, members of Platinum Pied Pipers and Jay-Dee) to bash out a funky hip hop inspired album to boost the pension fund. Madlib proves this with the sublime madness that is ‘Waves Of Infinite Harmony’; Daedelus is still doing the business with that synth ‘wave’. Its hippie Sun-Raness never fails.
Post-Millenial funk with an ethos of world peace and love is exemplified by the title track, ‘Love Is The Answer’, “to the question, How do we change the world?’ whilst ‘The 10th Jewel’ covers the rap bizniz with Brother J of “back by popular demand” X-Clan. Dwight chants “Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun” which seems as good an answer to ‘How do we change the world?’
‘Try Love’ follows as a soulful plea with funk rhythm and a jazzy flute, similar to ‘The Rhythm’ and with the hook line “Rhythm, beat as one”, “rhythm is the key, as we open up the door.” So it sounds a bit naive, but that didn’t make ‘Save The Children’ or ‘Clean Up The Ghetto’ any poorer and as Live 8 has proved (to an extent), things can change via music and “everything Is Music” (‘Is Music’).
But the album mixes it up and the next track is back to jazzity hop of ‘I Was Born On Plant Rock’. He’s, “been on wax for 30 years… making beautiful music for the kids to sample, the up and coming”, which has a great scat jazz break (sampler ready). He asks, “Who’s goin’ to fill these shoes next?” That’s a tough one as the shoes of a great jazz vocalist to come is unlikely to include our Jamie Cullen and there’s a long list of greats that are getting on in years or have left us, such as Al Jarreau, Jon Hendricks, Mark Murphy, Eddie Jefferson, Andy Bey, Slim Gailard, Leon Thomas, Donald Smith (of Lonnie Liston Smith fame) and one that could, but doesn’t, Bobby McFerrin.
Talking of Andy Bey, the CD ends with ‘Celestial Blues’ at just less than 2 minutes long, with ‘Rise’ (again on that great 12″) are two of the many infuriating ‘mini’ tracks, of which, tragically ‘A Love Supreme’ is another. To save getting all negative on that front, there a bonus CD of instrumentals that’s very good (particularly, ‘Waves Of Infinite Harmony’ — how did you guess?).
Also there’s a strong finish to the main CD, ‘Antiquity’ is vocalist ‘sampling’ the titles of tunes to make up a vocal/rap of his own (I’ve Known Rivers.., making Giant Steps for A Love Supreme). Respect, as Ian Carr says, “without a knowledge of the past we cannot properly understand the present”.
To round things off, two jazz chill tracks. On ‘Musicians Union’ by Ammoncontact, Dwight again appeals for the children and is accompanied by some lovely guitar and backing vocals and ‘Constellations’ is slow strings backed chant to a Scott Herren/Prefuse 73 piano loop. Dwight gives Carlos’ Spaceways show a plug in the lyrics, “from Spaceways to your heart, love vibrations of art.”
There are not many templates to define what an album that’s combines “sixties-inspired avant garde/spiritual jazz with the hottest beats the city” is supposed to be like. Well, there wasn’t until now and ‘Love Is The Answer’ is the benchmark, at the highest level of the Cosmos. Top Ten of the year. Peace.
Reviewed: Dwight Trible And The Life Force Trio – Love Is The Answer (Ninja Tune) Cat. No. ZENCD108 Released 11th July
Dwight Trible & The Life Force Trio @ The Jazz Cafe, London Tuesday 12th July www.jazzcafe.co.uk
Straight No Chaser: Summer 2005 Issue 36 ¬£3.50 ‘Dwight Trible + Life Force Trio’ Out July www.straightnochaser.co.uk
Ninja Tune www.ninjatune.net
MAKE POVERTY HISTORY www.makepovertyhistory.org