Michael Leonhart & The Avramina 7 - Seahorse And The Storyteller
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Perhaps it was because The Simonsound were in session (see album review HERE and interview with Simon HERE) that I missed Michael Leonhart & The Avramina 7’s ‘Jaipur’ on Gilles Peterson’s show a while back.
Thankfully, my friends at Phonica told me, if you like “The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia In 1970s Nigeria with a West Coast twist via Bollywood, you’ll like Seahorse And The Storyteller”.
Peterson followers will know that his British Jazz compilation Impressed featured Joe Harriot/Amancio D’ Silva’s ‘Jaipur’ and this version is more in a El Michels Affair vain. Which isn’t a great surprise as trumpeter Leonhart has 50+ credits on Truth & Soul Records in one form or another.
And whilst El Michels Affair are very East Coast (last year El Michels Affair released their fanatastic re-interpretation of Wu-Tang’s Enter The 37th Chamber and the Truth & Soul label having a big hit with Lee Fields’ My World), Seahorse And The Storyteller has loads of Californian cosmic love that covers all things Carlos Niño (who also happens to be a big fan of Donovan and The Beatles).
So don’t be put off by the press to this album who puts it alongside “artists like The Beatles, Donovan and The Byrds” and as a “modern, kaleidoscopic opera that tells the story of two mythical creatures”. O.K, but what we can agree on is that Michael Leonhart & The Avramina 7 create a unique sound that is reminiscent of artists like Boolywood’s R.D. Burman, Fela Kuti and The Funkees.
The album starts off a little gingerly with the title track and ‘Have You Met Martina?’ and whilst ‘Madhouse Mumbai’ is a bit querky, ‘Dr. Killjoy’ and ‘Jaipur’ prove a turning point so, even though it sounds far fetched, by the time you get to the closing track, ‘Here Comes The Dragonfish’ you’ll be singing along as if you were a founder member of the Polyphonic Spree!
I bet these guys are great live and it’s a shame they’re not going to be at the Big Chill this year as they would be ideal on a hot and sunny afternoon; even if we don’t know what an Avramina is!
Reviewed: Michael Leonhart & The Avramina 7 - Seahorse And The Storyteller (Truth & Soul) Cat. No. TSCD009 Release date: April 2010
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