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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Destin-E 777 25 3 2005




1. Intro

2. Abolition Day

3. Remercier Les Travailleurs

4. Blak Flag

5. Apunta Un Lapiz

6. Crossing the Sands

7. Civilisation

8. We Are a Warrior


Courtney Pine - Alto flute, bass clarinet, tenor sax, shaker

Jason Yarde - Soprano and baritone saxes, wind shaker

Nathaniel Facey - Alto sax, finger cymbal

Shabaka Hutchins - Clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax, finger cymbal

Byron Wallen - Trumpet, flugelhorn, tambourine

Jay Phelps - Trumpet, flugelhorn, shekere

Chris Storr - Trumpet, flugelhorn, tambourine

Harry Brown - Trombone, cabasa

Alex Wilson - Piano

Samuel Dubois - Alto and bass steel pans, cabasa

Femi Temowo - Electric and acoustic guitars

Ayanna Witter Johnson - Cello, voice

Omar Puente - Electric violin

Darren Taylor - Double bass

Robert Fordjour - Drums, Egyptian tabla

For this concert at London's Barbican in October 2007, Courtney Pine revived the Jazz Warriors to celebrate the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. Jazz Warriors broke up acrimoniously in 1987 after recording only one album. The personnel at the Barbican concert was largely new but the spirit was the same - assertive and celebratory. And the band contains some excellent musicians - notably violinist Omar Puente and steel drummer Samuel Dubois. Their distinctive contributions give a new, uplifting sound to the band and the live recording captures the excitement of the occasion.

The opening Intro starts with a child's voice reciting words spoken in 1712 by a slave-owner in Virginia: "I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves". Then Abolition Day bursts forth with a positively exuberant rhythm, punched along by the powerful brass and topped by the steel pans and Pontyesque violin. These latter instruments give the album much of its distinction, although all the playing is first-class.

Pianist Alex Wilson is featured in Remercier Les Travailleurs, a tune from Mali on which Alex makes his piano sound like the kora (a stringed instrument). Blak Flag (or is it Crossing the Sands? - the outer sleeve disagrees here and elsewhere with the inner sleeve!) erupts into free=form anarchy but settles down when Samuel Dubois is let loose on the steel drums and the rhythms evoke the Caribbean as well as Africa. Harry Brown's trombone solo accentuates the West Indian feel with a reggae beat before the music again descends into brawling chaos.

Omar Puente's violin is superb on Apunta Un Lapiz, mixing lyricism with mystery and outspoken passion. His unaccompanied cadenza is one of the album's high spots.

After this, I started to get really confused, because the track listings are so inconsistent that it's almost impossible to tell which tune one is hearing. Suffice it to say that the vigour stays at a high level, although the final We Are a Warrior becomes a bit of a dirge. This is a fine album, spoilt only by the careless documentation.

Tony Augarde






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