Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Well, here's an album which has had immediate uptake at Elsewhere because it falls neatly between jazz and world music
This is the debut album – after a couple of EPs – from expat keyboard player Aron Ottignon (piano, synths) and the Jeri Jeri Band from Senegal (marimba, percussion, vocals, drums, bass).
In truth, it pulls together some material from the EPs – the supple synth-funk Teddoungal featuring the great Baaba Maal – but that's not a problem.
The album neatly wraps up music which is West African in spirit and execution with discreet touches from Ottignon which sometimes nudge short passages towards Afro-Cuban influences or classy jazz fusion (but not of that breezy, vacuous West Coast style of the Eighties).
And you can see why some material by this band has undergone remixes on previous releases, it's music that stands on its own but also invites people to experiment with its many parts to reconfigure them.
The album in hand however is 11 mostly short tracks (under five minutes) aside from the eight minute title track/opening statement which sets an appropriate tone of longing.
But elsewhere are a few tracks of dance with driving percussion (Kaolack), that distinctively high and quavering vocal style from the region (here by Samuel Dubois, Sidy Diop, Horatio Luna and others) and hypnotic slices of slow and spacious Afro-ambient funk (the haunting Ngaldoore with vocalist Boy Aka).
This isn't a collection of vibrant upbeat dance-party moods but rather a collection which often aches with yearning (Maam Baay with singer Sidy Diop) and in places suggests what Zawinul might have done had he hooked up with musicians from the region (Ottignon's work on the ballad Mama Djuma).
Aron Ottignon has constantly surprised and has worked locally with Mara TK, Whirimako Black, appeared on a Loop label compilation and has been favourably reviewed in significant international media.
Well worth discovering.
You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here