Personnel: Oran Etkin (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Makane Kouyate (vocals, djembe, percussion); Abdoulaye Diabaté (vocals); Lionel Loueke (guitar); Sara Caswell (violin); Jessie Marino (cello); Balla Kouyate (balafon); Joe Sanders (bass instrument); John Benítez (bass guitar); Joh Camara (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Ethan Donaldson; Tony Schloss; Peter Fand.
Liner Note Authors: Oran Etkin; Yusef Lateef.
Recording information: The Hook Studio, Brooklyn, NY; Twinz Studios, River Edge, NJ.
Photographer: Dusan Reljin.
Israeli Oran Etkin is clearly influenced by various cultures of the African diaspora and the jazz born in the Americas that stemmed from those cultures. Playing tenor sax, alto clarinet, and most notably bass clarinet, Etkin assembled different combos of musicians from around the world to play music that simmers with subtle rhythms and muted melodies that do not overwhelm or nullify each other, but work beautifully in balanced symmetry. The flattened wooden balafon sound of Balla Kouyate, vocals of Makane Kouyate and Abdoulaye Diabaté, guitar of Lionel Loueke, and bass of Joe Sanders or John Benítez surround and embrace Etkin's ideas with a loving multicultural touch rarely found in more focused ethnic fusions. Traditional elements are updated and expanded, while soul is reaffirmed in bluesy but non-urban means. On the jazz side, Etkin presents a tribute to Steve Lacy, as "Lacy" is a diffuse piece with harmonically overblown but delicate clarinet with balafon and guitar, "Nina" is Etkin's tribute to the style of Stan Getz in a circular motion with his bass clarinet, and a most unusual treatment of Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing" is done in a hip groove with shifting meters, mostly in 6/8 and containing good solo content from Etkin's clarinet. "Brink" is a purposely off-kilter Afro-blues two-beat tune with Etkin on tenor sax, the 6/8 light dance griot story "Damonzon" is about a king with one eye, and the strings of violinist Sara Caswell and cellist Jessie Marino offer heavy contrast in vastly different octaves with the bass clarinet and balafon during "New Dwelling."