The complete credit for this album is Charlie Apicella & Iron City meet The Griots Speak, and the concept was to bring together two sets of musicians (Charlie is common in both bands), consisting of straight-ahead players in one and free improvisors in the other to stimulate the straight-ahead players to improvise. The Griots Speak were formed in 2022 by percussionist Juma Sultan (Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and beyond) to celebrate the life and work of James DuBois, patriarch of the NYC loft scene. He provides congas, shakers, percussion, with the rest of the band being Daniel Carter (saxophones, flute, clarinet, trumpet, piano), Charlie Apicella (madal drum, Tibetan singing bowls, guitar), William Parker (bass, doson ngoni, double reed: gralla, gembiri, pocket trumpet). The other musicians involved, who have worked with Charlie extensively (where he stays on guitar and not percussion) are Brad Whiteley (organ) and Austin Walker (drums).
Recorded in one day in November last year, this is an album without overdubs as the six musicians attempt to find their way among the threads they are weaving, to produce something which is interesting and vibrant. With The Griots Speak containing multi-instrumentalists, yet always working from a percussive base, one never knows where the music is going to lead as musicians listen to what is taking place and swap one instrument for another as they make sense of what they are hearing. Improvised music like this can be difficult to listen to, yet there are also times when there is sheer brilliance, and one cannot help but wonder how they manage to find their way through the maze and come out the other side. In the digipak it says, “The Creator has a master plan”, which I understand as none of those playing knew what they were going to come out with at the end, just that it was going to be an interesting and intriguing experience.
Also on the cover it thanks the pioneers who have forged the path for their message and name the following, James DuBoise, Yusef Lateef, Jimi Hendrix, Ayesha Lateef, Miles Davies, Archie Shepp and Ma Rainey, an intriguing list indeed. While not nearly as experimental as some of the jazz I listen to, the percussive nature makes this an interesting album.