November 1998

Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora
Dedication
CIMP Recordings

Ahmed Abdullah is an extraordinary trumpeter who has been woefully under-documented. His last recording was 10 years ago-the recommendable Liquid Magic on Silkheart. So, it's fortunate that he and CIMP producer Bob Rusch are working together again (the first title on Rusch's first label, Cadence Jazz Records, was an '80 date led by Abdullah). As CIMP is a prolific label that regularly records a core roster of artists, Abdullah may finally be in the position to play catch-up ball in getting his music out. Dedication is an encouraging first installment.

As the band's name suggests, the music's roots are in Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the States. That's not a particularly novel concept, but Abdullah's Diaspora is one serious band: Carlos Ward shares the front line on alto and flute; the rhythm section is comprised of guitarist Masujaa, bassist Alex Blake, and drummer Cody Moffett. They have explosive power and staying power on extended Abdullah originals like highlife-tinged "Amanpondo" and the Morganish pluck and flat-out swing of "Song of the Holy Warrior." And the quintet can effectively downshift, as on the leader's winsome ballad, "Song of Love."

A couple of dubious choices of material suggest that Abdullah is a bit rusty at making albums. Masujaa's "Deja's View" is too smooth for comfort. Also, a happy-go-lucky reading of "I'll Be Seeing You" isn't the best setup for Blake's patented strumming and string-popping.

Still, there is close to an hour of cogent, undiluted music on Dedication, a claim that too few albums in this glutted market can make.

Originally published in November 1998
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