As you might guess from the cover, this album is inspired by the music of Ethiopia and when it’s done by Ben Lamdin, you know it’s going to be jazz of the highest quality – put it down as a must have.
And to sort of digress just for a brief moment, the CD ends on one of the best Alice Russell tracks I’ve heard; and that’s saying something! ‘Adam And Eve’ is more of a Big Band blues-jazz track than anything African but with fantastic lyrics and Ms. Russell’s control, I must say I’m rather in love with this one – knocks the proverbial socks off Jools Holland et al!
I say ‘digress’ as the remarkable thing about this track (and the rest of the album) is that the master-mind/body behind it, Ben Lamdin, has ‘compiled’ it all out of out-takes from his numerous recording activities; you get why this is called Skeletons now?
So whilst that sounds like a terrible idea, this is Ben Lamdin we’re talking about here. For those that need to catch up on Mr. Lamdin, here’s our interview back in 2005 (see HERE to what we were talking about) but he’s been not really stopped since. Whether it is on the recent Jeb Loy Nichols album Strange Faith And Practice album or Lizzy Park’s This & That or Nostalgia 77 feat. Keith & Julie Tippett Sessions along with his Impossible Ark work and collaborations with Natural Self; you get the idea, this guy is super talented and super busy so you can see that there must have been a quite a lot of tape (or whatever the digital equivalent of analogue tape is) left around the studio floor.
He says himself that some of the tracks started out as commissions for a library music company, “pastiches and forgeries paid for by the current vogue for a certain style of African jazz”. So guess what ‘Mulatu’ sounds like? A good warm up for the new Mulatu Astatke album coming out soon, Mulatu Steps Ahead (did you see what they did there?)> on Strut following on from New York – Addis – London : The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965 – 1975),
‘Guadelupe’ is in a similar downtempo groove on the dusty early morning city roads and the tracks ‘Skeletons’ and ‘Over The Bridge’ funks up the Mulatu “forgery”.
It’s really hard to believe tracks like ’50 Degrees’, ‘Positive Force’ and ‘Mr Mystery’ are not Astatke originals they are so good.
You can imagine how much hard work this would be for a mere mortal, but I can imagine Ben took this one a a bit of a relaxation after his normal day; clearly it has done with love and skill. I think it might be time for another interview with Ben so stay tuned here; unless I manage to concoct one from previous interviews of left over quotes – Nah, I wouldn’t do that to you.
Reviewed: Skeletons – Smile (Impossible Ark) Cat. No. UNFOLDCD010 Release date: 1st March 2010
1. Positive Force (3:06)
2. Marathon Man (4:03)
3. Mr Mystery (3:45)
4. 50 Degrees (4:18)
5. Gravel (3:59)
6. Firesticks (3:37)
7. Over The Bridge (4:52)
8. Skeletons (4:53)
9. Guadelupe (6:38)
10. Mulatu (2:55)
11. Blood (0:34)
12. Adam And Eve Featuring The Voice Of Alice Russell (2:59)