Not everyone is a fan of jazz ‘fusion’ projects - myself included - and in fact many purists would argue that the very act of ‘fusion’ (mixing jazz with some other genre of music such as world music, funk etc.) renders it something so hugely altered that in the end it’s not true jazz anymore. For the purpose of this article I am considering a blend I’ve heard lately which is really unique and I am totally digging. It’s a heady mix of Jewish klezmer music – effectively, Jewish folk music or the type of music you might encounter at a Jewish wedding to encourage dancing – swirled together with jazz, funk or in the case of Odessa Havanna a Cuban beat.
I know what you’re thinking, and I won’t lie – it does sound odd – but don’t be put off until you’ve sampled it! It’s completely infectious, exciting – the improvising is sleek and intelligent – and above it all, it’s thrillingly different to listen to.
Abraham Inc. is comprised of core players clarinetist, David Krakauer, eclectic musician and piano player, Socalled and the delightful Fred Wesley on trombone. Together the group takes the klezmer music of years ago and layers a heavy funk veneer right on top. Instead of ‘sampling’ bits of material here and there, a seamless bond weaves these two very different genres together so skillfully that it becomes difficult to detect boundaries. The result is something unusual, traditional and modern all at the same time. It will sound familiar to you and yet not.
Fans of improvisation will not be disappointed in the genius of David Krakauer whose clarinet work is world renowned in projects as diverse as the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra to string quartet work to annual jazz festival appearances across Europe.
Trombonist Fred Wesley too will be familiar to many for his close association with funkmeister James Brown and Bootsy Collins. Wesley has also written much of his own material and was responsible for supplementing much of James Brown's horn work. Fred also has a keen love of jazz projects as well and has been involved in everything from producing to session player to involvement with teaching as an (adjunct) professor of jazz studies at the University of North Carolina.
Next week I will be reviewing David Buchbinder’s Odessa Havanna which is klezmer again but different, since there is an injection of Cuba in the mix.
Be open minded - just because you wouldn’t think of putting hot sauce on your latkes doesn’t mean they won’t be delicious if you do!