Ubiquity Records Derf Reklaw : From The Nile -LP/CD- (US,1998)****°
Derf Reklaw is mostly known from the 70s spiritual jazz band The Pharaohs, with a 1972 album that was only re-released in limited edition on LP so far. This newer album proves the magic is still there. The project is fused with energy, creativity and complexity. Participating were a lot of professional musicians. I think it’s worth mentioning all their names :
Derf Reklaw played flute (1,3,7,9), djembe (1,5), cowbell (1), tumba (2), whisums (2), quinto (4), vocal (4,7), alto saxophone (5), jugs, whisums, mouth trumpet and beatbox (6), musa drum (8), congas, jugs and whisums (10) ; Rahmlee Michael Davis on trumpet (3) and trumpet solo (1,5) ;Michael Harris on trumpet (1,3) and trumpet solo (5) ; Nick Smith on piano (1,3,5,7,10) ; John Rangle on piano (9) and marimba (10) ; Trevor Ware on acoustic (acro) bass (1,5) ; Reggie Carson on bass (3,10) ; Jeff Littlton on bass (5,9) ; Lui Lui Satterfield on electric bass (1,7), djun djun drums (3) ; Don Littleton on drums (1,3,7,10), plow sweep (2), cascara (4), tumba (8) ; Leon Mobley on djembe (1), conga (3) ; Billy Higgins on drums (9) ; Pondoza Santiel on tumba (1-5,8), conga (7) ; Munyungo Jackson on congas and shakers (2), shekere (3), congas and bata (4), talking drum and shakers (7), tumba, rattles and shakers (8), timbale, sordo and shakers (10) ; Ronald Muldrow on guitar (7) ; Kamau Daaood with D.R. poetry reciting (1) ; Kang The Guru on vocals (2) ; Dwight Trible on vocal (7,10), Zuri on vocal (7,10) and vocal arrangements (7), Mag Da Pie 3.14 on vocal (7), Nailah on vocals (10), Tamaron Gennae on vocals (10) ; Trevor Ware on claves (4) ; Mimi Archie with the sounds of river and crickets (1) ; John Rangel as elephant herder (elephant trumpet-alike sounds on 5).
The first track, with a background of water and crickets and spoken word brings us immediately into the setting of a boat journey along the Nile, spiritual jazz with beautiful groovy jazz flute and trumpet solos and lots of hand percussion. Throughout the album a lot of complex polyrhythmic ideas occur, the vocal contributions often sound magical and partly shamanic with weird creative sounds and colours like other instruments. “Hannibal” might be the most complex track with most variations. Also here a setting is made with elephants in battle, trumpeting their way. Lots of polyrhythms occur, taken over on a certain stage by the full band making different layers combating or competing against each other, the sax and later piano leading the jazz theme. “Jus, Da Position” is Derf Reklaw solo with nose flute themes, responding singing and beat box rhythms. “We See” almost seem to break with the spiritual jazz setting, or opens it up, with a reggae-rhythm based positive song of hope with gospel-like singing and responses, just a handful of strange vocal use too, and a flute solo bringing it back to the original setting. This is lighter, but still fits well with the inner goals. “Watusi Wu/Breal of the century” after that is only based upon percussion. After an original version of Coltrane’s “Olé”, the last track, “Carnival” has lots of percussive ideas too, it is as if here a Latin rhythmic theme is returning to certain African roots. The percussion is capable of taking over a merlody with such a rhythmic complexity the melody seems to be remaining or survive in the rhythm only. Most of the album has a spiritual creative awareness and transformed complexity I am used only to find in 70s albums. Even though a few tracks are lighter in theme, this makes this album still a future classic. Only the way Derf Reklaw plays the flute alone is worth the experience. An over 70 minute album. Track it !