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Indigenous People: Unite

The first-rate quartet Indigenous People brings a graceful mix of lean retro-’50s organ and percussion, tribal and ethnic elements and graceful melodies to Unite (Jazzateria JZZ 20307-2; 64:43), one of the most unique and thoroughly moving projects of the year. Maintaining a lean, retro quality that reaches back to go-go music as well as more recent soul heirs like Steely Dan, the band’s compositions pulse and dance in a celebratory though sometimes dark journey. “Take Me Higher,” for example, starts with darkly vibrant percussion and bass pulses, and then adds a beautiful flute melody, which feels like a shout of joy rising deep from within. Likewise, the dramatic, dark guitar motion of “A Poem Meant to Celebrate” becomes a heartbeat, coursing underneath the spoken word. Keyboardist Marc Cary and bassist Tarus Mateen set up sap-free romance on “Woo,” utilizing the purr of the organ and the deep pitch of the bass to support the longing in Yarbrough Charles Laws’ flute work; drummer Camille Gainers’ proud, high-stepping beats ring out in glorious, soul-rattling form on “In the Pocket Where You Know It’s Safe.” This is challenging, life-affirming music at its best.

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