Drummer-composer-sonic conceptualist Jaimeo Brown delivers a compelling offering on this, his debut recording, weaving seemingly incongruous elements—Southern spirituals, East Indian music, jazz, blues and electronica—into a seamless patchwork.
In pursuit of his expressed intention to transform pain and deliverance into art, Brown assembles the core ensemble of tenor saxophonist JD Allen and guitarist and producer Chris Sholar, both steeped in the blues. The sacred music comes in the form of sampled spirituals by the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective of rural Alabama. Vocalist Falu delivers the East Indian element and keyboardist Kelvin Sholar adds avant-jazz hues.
The spiritual “I Know I’ve Been Changed” illustrates Brown’s approach, the quilters’ voices interlaced with Falu’s. Brown’s insistent drumming turns fiery, and the somber mood oscillates as Allen enters; Sholar’s gritty guitar joins the quilters to restate the theme. The haunting sampled vocals on “Mean World” are adorned with tanpura, and Brown infuses a sense of woeful urgency enhanced by Allen’s spiraling, free-flowing improvisation as the track builds in intensity. The poignant “Power of God” features Brown with guest pianist Geri Allen, who beautifully complements the quilters’ evocative singing. “Somebody’s Knocking” features harmonium player Andrew Shantz and Falu’s mesmerizing vocals. “Accra” is Brown’s most prominent vehicle, a tour de force colored with an ethereal soundscape.
Brown and company employ the quilting metaphor with a sense of freedom as well as spiritual and emotional depth. The album transcends time and form, its various elements blended into a wholly original tapestry.