Pasa Tem­pos

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - AN­TO­NIO SANCHEZ & MI­GRA­TION The Merid­ian Suite

An­to­nio Sanchez & Mi­gra­tion’s The Merid­ian Suite and Nneka’s My Fairy Tales

(CAM Jazz) Drum­mer An­to­nio Sanchez, who had his record­ing de­but in 2007 with Mi­gra­tion, gained renown with a score — solely per­cus­sion and all im­pro­vised — for the 2014 film Bird­man or (The Un­ex­pected Virtue of Ig­no­rance). Then he re­leased two CDs this spring — Three Times Three, fea­tur­ing Sanchez play­ing with three trios, and The Merid­ian Suite. In the liner notes, he re­calls de­cid­ing to ap­proach The Merid­ian Suite more like a novel than a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries. He “wanted to cre­ate imag­i­nary lines in which mo­tifs, emo­tions, ideas, and melodies flow, meet and in­ter­twine.” The episodic and fu­sion­is­tic opener, “Grids and Pat­terns,” is a com­plex mu­si­cal weav­ing, fea­tur­ing beau­ti­ful uni­son voic­ings be­tween guest singer Thana Alexa and Sea­mus Blake on elec­tric wind in­stru­ment (EWI). John Escreet’s pi­ano solo evolves from del­i­cate and spare to fever­ish; Sanchez and Al­bu­querque-raised bassist Matt Brewer fur­ther en­er­gize the pro­ceed­ings. A staid pi­ano in­tro sets a slower pace for “Imag­i­nary Lines,” although the piece is equally dy­namic. Alexa sings poetic lines and Adam Rogers’ guitar and Blake’s EWI and tenor sax add drama. “Chan­nels of Energy” be­gins with fuzzed-out block chords, Sanchez all over the kit, be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of a driv­ing riff. Blake blows a feral, spooky EWI lead, and then Escreet takes his turn, dig­ging into the mix on the Fen­der Rhodes as the group builds sus­pense­fully to a cli­max. This is a hell of an al­bum. — Paul Wei­de­man

NNEKA My Fairy Tales (Bushqueen Mu­sic) A ma­jor star in Europe and Africa, Nneka Eg­buna has yet to break out be­fore Amer­i­can au­di­ences de­spite her Lilith Fair tours and David Let­ter­man show ap­pear­ances. Her sound has no nat­u­ral home in a ra­dio genre. She sings and scats her way through a down­tempo dance­hall in­flu­enced by Afro-pop, Amer­i­can R& B, and the loungey at­mo­spher­ics of Burt Bacharach songs. On her fifth al­bum, re­leased in­de­pen­dently on her own la­bel, the vo­cal­ist re­turns to her roots in reg­gae and Afrobeat. The opener “Be­lieve Sys­tem” is a slow-burn­ing, syn­co­pated prayer, ad­dressed like many of the songs on this al­bum, to the strife in her na­tive Nige­ria. “Pray For You” finds her con­fronting the many crimes of Boko Haram. Dis­play­ing a harsh for­give­ness, she croons, “You’ve scat­tered my home/I’ll still pray for you.” In the tra­di­tion of Mar­ley-era reg­gae, she fuses Old Tes­ta­ment prophecy, calls to per­sonal per­se­ver­ance, and syn­co­pated call-an­dresponse lyrics on “Book of Job.” On “My Love, My Love,” a warm church or­gan bathes a sug­ary dance­hall gospel melody to give this al­bum the clos­est thing it has to a pop hit. — Casey Sanchez

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