The sophomore release for drummer Daniel Freedman could simply be retitled Passion and not be too far off the mark. To be this comfortable with who you are and where you are going is a gift but to pull off the same passion as an artist is a thing of rare beauty. Freedman is a first call world class percussionist having been heard on recorded works with such luminaries as Sting, Tom Harrell and Youssou N' Dour. Bamako By Bus is a stunning release as it fuses a myriad of influences that range from jazz to African, Cuban, funk and pop and the end result is a stunning new land of sonic texture and feeling. Welcome to the land of rhythm and groove! A highly personal recording of a musicians inner vision of where another journey may well start but the end is not specifically laid out but left up to the listener and Freedman. Bamako By Bus is also meant to confirm that New York City is indeed the mecca of the jazz universe with musicians coming together from all over the world to pool their collective talents.
Music was specifically written with certain players in mind but there is united core of Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, the incredible Avishai Cohen on trumpet, Jason Linder on keyboards and of course Daniel Freedman handling the duties behind the kit. There are virtually too many highlights to list in their entirety including the most under rated saxophonist on the planet Mark Turner and his musical union with the haunting and gorgeous ballad "Alona." Perhaps a personal favorite would be the sonic fire power of Ndegeocello and Linder taking funk to the next level while Avishai Cohen lays down a jaw dropping solo showcasing his ability not to simply blow but play with lyrical purpose and direction as do all participants here. Rumba Pa' NYC is old school, music celebrating the time that culture filled the streets and the air with the rhythmic intoxication that is Cuban music.
The wide range of influence from global sources is staggering. Yoruba Afro-Cuban prayer chant, mixed with a subtle splash of Regga; rumba; Afro-Moroccan Gnawa music merged with Brazilian grooves; and the West African Malian tones that balance the title track. The title track as much of the release itself, inspired by an arduous 30 hour bus trip the young Freedman took in Mali. Freedman's musical adventures have taken his prolific talents to West Africa, The Middle East and Cuba.
Texture, timbre and tone but from the other musicians are the emphasis on this stunning release. Freedman does what the premier drummers do, he pushes the music to center stage and lets the ensemble play out while not remaining comfortable but owning the pocket. Phrasing, dynamics and harmonic placement are done with the ensemble in mind. At no time does Bamako By Bus become a self indulgent percussive bash fest any more than Feldman being something other than a human metronome.
A stellar work. One of the best releases for 2012. 5 Stars!
Daniel Freedman – Bamako By Bus
1. “Odudua” featuring Abraham Rodriguez
2. “Elegba Wa” featuring Lionel Loueke
3. “Deep Brooklyn”
4. “Rumba Pa’ NYC” featuring Abraham Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez
5. “Alona” featuring Mark Turner
6. “All Brothers” featuring Lionel Loueke
7. “Darfur/Oasis” featuring Joshua Levitt and Omer Avital
8. “Sa’aba” featuring Mark Turner and Avishai Cohen
9. “Bamako By Bus” featuring Lionel Loueke
Avishai Cohen – trumpet, Lionel Loueke – guitar and vocals, Jason Lindner – keyboards, Meshell Ndegeocello – bass, Omer Avital – acoustic bass (track 7), Daniel Freedman – drums, percussion, Pedrito Martinez, Abraham Rodriguez – vocals and percussion, Mark Turner – tenor saxophone, Joshua Levitt – Ney (Arabic flute), Yosvany Terry, Davi Viera, Mauro Refosco – additional percussion
Special Thanks To Anzic Records!