Tales From The Earth. A thoroughly cosmopolitan outlook rooted in the rhythmic intensity and improvisatory, call-and- response spirit of Africa writ large. Artists of Cuban, Haitian, West African (Bénin, Ivory Coast), European, African American and Jewish American heritage, entering a Berlin studio for two days of intensive recording, without music or a predetermined conception, only a shared commitment to the communal, celebratory character that embodies the expressive riches of Mother Africa.
Flautist Mark Weinstein’s groundbreaking Cuban Roots (1967) melded the influences of Mingus, Machito, Puente, Tjader, and Palmieri, carried forward into the present with his recent collaborations, Cuban Roots Revisited, Algo Más, and now, Tales From The Earth. Weaving a musical lineage of a thousand strands, if Tales From The Earth recalls something of the creative spirit of M’Boom, the inventive all-percussion octet founded by Max Roach in 1970, it captures the global ecumenical spirit of the present.
Accordingly, Tales From The Earth resounds with the Afro-Cuban traditions of Omar Sosa—best known as a pianist and composer, but here primarily on marimba and vibraphone, which Sosa studied in Cuba’s conservatories before switching to piano. It features the eclectic guitar talents of Jean Paul Bourelly (Miles Davis, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson); the resonant balafon of Aly Keita’s Ivory Coast; the insistent drum ‘n’ bass sensibilities of Stockholm-based Marque Gilmore (Roy Ayers, Steve Coleman, Graham Haynes, Toumani Diabate, Vernon Reid, Joe Zawinul, MeShell Ndegeocello, Susheela Raman, Nitin Sawhney, Talvin Singh); the vocal and percussive vitality of Aho Luc Nicaise and Mathias Agbokou; and the fresh, ever-surprising turns of phrase that each artist invests in this pioneering project.
Tales From The Earth weaves a musical narrative that can be read as a journey to the source of the human spirit with all the playfulness, celebration, contemplation, historical awareness, compassion, reverence, and gratitude manifest in a life consciously lived.
Co-produced by Mark Weinstein, Omar Sosa, and Jean Paul Bourelly, Tales From The Earth embraces the radical challenge laid down by Monk long ago: “Jazz is freedom, so I play music. If I ever play the same thing twice, I’ll stop making music. ”
This ensemble never plays the same thing twice, and Tales From The Earth expresses a revelatory message, deeply grounded in tradition, yet thoroughly contemporary and innovative in realization, an expression of human freedom, and a celebration of the Diaspora, alive in our times.