Alkebu-Lan, Land of the Blacks [Strata East, 1972]
Rebirth Cycle [Third Street, 1977 (recorded in 1974)]
Alkebu-Lan, Land of the Blacks is pretty damn wild... my initial response was "AACM goes to Africa" but I guess I'd have to add "Pharoahs go to Saturn" to get the picture complete. Starts out with a four-minute speech describing the role of "these jams" in the service of Black Nationalism ... and then backs it up. Cover is black with white line-drawing of a sorta Egyptian-meets-sub Saharan figure (Pharoanic beard, pyramids for eyes, goat amulet), back side has an eye-in-pyramid drawing with photo of Mtume leaning against it. [JF]
acoustic modal, occasionally free and often quite nicely chaotic. Nice cast on this one, w/ headsup to Carlos Garnett, Leroy Jenkins, Ndugu, Gary Bartz, Stanley Cowell, Buster Williams, Andy Bey, and Billy Hart.
Rebirth Cycle is an amazing lineup (see Ian's discog listing at
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You can pick up a version of Baba Hengates (from Alkebu-Lan) on Buddy Terry's excellent Pure Dynamite album.
Where can I buy this music by Mtume? I have searched, and I cannot find it. Alkebu-Lan, Land of the Blacks [Strata East, 1972
Used to play with Miles Davis (electric fusion era) too, and now has his own radio show in NYC. Note : his later funk albums may not be "Kozmigroov" but they sure are funky (in the slickest eighties way), esp. the "You, me & he" lp (best place to start). More info via freestylegrooves dot com, soulfunkspecial dot com and dvrepublic.com ...
Rebirth Cycle, though released in 1977, was actually made in 1974, and the album’s personnel list reads like a veritable who’s-who of the musicians who where working in the more independent jazz scene of the early seventies. Working on this album, you had Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jean Carne on vocals. Strata East players like Cecil McBee and Buster Williams on bass, Stanley Cowell on piano and Jimmy Heath on reeds. This album is also the first introduction to the mighty voice of Tawatha Agee who would remain the co vocalist with the Mtume band right through to the mid eighties.
Musically, Rebirth Cycle is a fusion of afro-centric deep jazz and psychedelic spacey funk.
The main piece on here, and the album’s high point, is the side long “Sais” (sigh-us). This 20 plus minute tune starts with the spoken introduction by Senegalese poet Mustapha, explaining the story of “Mystery System of Sais, the Egyptian school of higher learning from which Greek and Western philosophy was developed”. Once the introduction is over one of the most magical and hypnotic musical 20 minutes you could sit through begins. From the slow and haunting bass clarinet solo through crashing waves of vocal chaos plus one almighty guitar solo by Reggie Lucas, all backed by a solid groove that is cut so deep it would be impossible to climb out of, even if you wanted to. There are moments in this piece where the cacophony is such that it feels like you’re consumed in a hypnotic aural cloud, and you find yourself not wanting to come out of it, or at least for the tune not to come to an end. Then the chaos ebbs away, the bass clarinet solo slowly unearths itself from the onslaught of the other instruments and the poetry returns. You then find yourself coming to from this 20 minute musical roller coaster ride, and you cannot help but feel total exhilaration. On Side two of this album the tracks are shorter in length and are much more afro-centric funk in style. The vocal work on this side of the album is truly sublime, whether it is “Yebo” the Oneness Of Juju style groover with magical vocals by Tawatha Agee, the haunting beauty of Jean Carn’s performance on Cabral, or the traditional African nasal style on the closing track “Umoja”. Rebirth Cycle does not contain a weak moment anywhere on the entire recording, and is really worth seeking out a copy.
There is also a slightly more sanitised version of the track Alkebu-Lan on his father's (Jimmy Heath's) record, the Gap Sealer (1972 Cobblestone/Muse LP reissue called "Jimmy"). Mtume plays various percussion on this track too, which also features Kenny Barron, Jimmy Heath, Al "Tootie" Heath and Bob Cranshaw. Most of the tracks on this LP are also pretty good, especially the rewqorking of James Moody's Heritage Hum. Man those Heath Brothers could kick it!
[Jimmy Lo Santo]
KAWAIDA # ALKEBU-LAN # REBIRTH CYCLE (rec
1969 # 1972 # 1974): three real great albums co-
produced by MTUME - spritual-souljazz at its best!
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