Rich Brown Abeng
Published Mar 30, 2016The call of the cow horn blown to summon the old communities of Jamaica lurks mysteriously in Abeng.
While fans of reggae may have encountered the drumming of Rastafari chant in their research, one is surprised to hear its loping throb in "Chant of the Exile." Rich Brown's melodic expression is one thing that has defined his sound, and to hear the keening horn lines that sail over the drums on this track says something about his attention to narrative.
The call is to gather, but also to meditate on the struggle of life.
The music here is tight and well executed, and more than a nod is given to Brown's roots in Steve Coleman's MBase research. However, there are also echoes of Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul as well. The writing is simply beautiful and literally sings.
Props must also be given to Larnell Lewis's attentive and powerful drumming, never letting the band lay back for an instant, and while the horn and keys solos are clear and expressive (props also to Luis Deniz, who shreds his way close to Dolphyland), the key to this music is how the rhythm section frames them. The groove places everything in an original context: Is this jazz? What is jazz?
Maybe this is "filed under jazz" because there is a perception that this is where this music will be understood the most. Let's just call it great music, when Rastafari can also hear something of theirs in it. (Independent)