How best to celebrate the multiculturalism that has long nourished the heart and soul of America? Dave Anderson, a New York-based, Minnesota-born saxophonist looking to provide a musical antidote to signs of xenophobia in the United States, last year organized his Melting Pot band to record five original compositions. The world-jazz group’s music in part reflects the backgrounds of the players: Canadian pianist David Restivo, Austrian-American bassist Hans Glawischnig, Colombian-born drummer Memo Acevedo, Venezuelan-born percussionist Roberto Quintero, British trumpeter Bryan Davis, Israeli flutist Itai Kriss, tabla player Ehren Hanson, and sitarist/vocalist Neel Murgai.
Melting Pot feels like a celebratory melding of musical cultures within a jazz context, beginning with the robust Afro-Cuban rhythms, twisting soprano/trumpet melody line, and extended conga throwdown of opener “Juror Number One,” the first of three pieces in Anderson’s “Immigrant Suite,” each inspired by someone the composer met. Part two, “Querida,” is built on dancing samba rhythms and highlighted by Acevedo’s concluding drum solo. The last part, “A Candle for Isaac,” opens with buzzing sitar and tabla drums; its playful, folkish melody, put forth by the leader’s alto and Davis’ trumpet, is inspired by a traditional Hanukkah song, and at one point hints at “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
“Mantra,” in 12/8 and featuring guest tabla player Deep Singh, bustles with Indian, Afro-Cuban, and funk rhythms and textures, and opens up for solos by Restivo, on Rhodes; Anderson, on buoyant alto; and bassist Glawischnig. The closer, “Trance-like,” on which Anderson turns in one of his most adventurous solos, begins and ends with an element seldom heard on a jazz album: Murgai’s two-notes-at-once Mongolian throat singing. As the title suggests, it is indeed hypnotic.Originally Published