Key West, Fla., the southernmost city in the United States, has the kind of tourist-driven music scene that thrives on cover bands playing Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville.” The listless pop hit has provided the image of the Key West experience since its release 30 years ago, but hopefully keyboardist Dave Falciani will change that perception. His group Oko Jumu’s latest release, Everything’s Liquid, bears more resemblance to Joe Zawinul than to the king of the Parrotheads.
Falciani and guitarist Ed Hamilton formerly operated Studio Crash in Philadelphia, working with artists from R&B singer John Legend to bassist Stanley Clarke. Since moving to Key West, Falciani and Hamilton have likewise moved away from Oko Jumu’s previous electronica sound toward worldly fusion. The keyboardist achieves droning synthesizer tones as Jerry Maurio and Radha Gopinath Das approximate a drumming army on the Afro-Cuban romp “Vamos a Bailar.” A de-accelerated “No Sign at Houston” features Das on tablas and Falciani playing an acoustic piano solo. Both tracks feature underground fusion bass star Jamaaladeen Tacuma.
The project’s other bassist is former Zawinul Syndicate member Gerald Veasley, who anchors energized pieces like “Bake’s Beard” and “Capt’n Gypsy.” The two tracks feature the same additional personnel in saxophonist Chris Farr, drummer Pat Petrillo and percussionist Jim Hamilton. Another highlight is “Suma Lee,” which showcases an arsenal of horns, percussion and the vocals of the Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble. Everything’s Liquid always swings, but doesn’t always connect (the meandering “Bahia Honda,” the pseudo-techno “Viva”). But it’s a better post-Weather Report world fusion attempt than that of most bands in the game far longer than Oko Jumu.