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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Ches Smith

We All Break - Path Of Seven Colors

Review by Gary Hill

This double CD set is apparently a special edition of the group's latest album, with a bonus disc of the previous one. It's important to note that I have mentioned African musical leanings here because that's how they sound, but looking at some of the notes, I think they are more Haitian. That said, much of Haitian tradition, comes from Africa, so to my untrained ears, I think the confusion makes sense. The music here is almost yin and yang. Sections are more pure jazz, while others are traditional. Sometimes the sounds are merged, but more often it's more two sides of a coin. This set is classy. Each CD comes in its own cardboard sleeve, and there is a full booklet for each. It's all enclosed in a cardboard clamshell box. This is a unique set of music, and while not really in my wheelhouse, I can enjoy it.

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Track by Track Review
CD 1
Path Of Seven Colors
Woule Pou Mwen

Piano and percussion drive this as it gets underway. There are world music vocals that emerge after the introduction. The music is of an experimental jazz style, though.

Here's The Light
I really dig the mix of traditional African music and jazz here. It starts with tribal percussion and world music vocals. We're taken into full jazz excursions along the road here and there, though. It's an intriguing point-counterpoint approach. At over nine-minutes long, this is an extensive piece allowing for a lot of variety and change.
Leaves Arrive
The world music is more in control of this number, but there are still jazz elements. Much of this is nearly acapella with clapping and other percussion as the only accompaniment. It shifts out for the second half to full jazz instrumental music. The jazz driving it is pretty crazed at times. Yet, as you expect, there is still some world music, delivered via the percussion.
Women Of Iron
This comes in with even more pure jazz jamming. It's a killer instrumental excursion. There are some particularly inspired and intense moments along this journey. This is really a pure jazz number from start to finish.
Lord Of Healing
Vocals return on this, bringing more of the world music concepts with them. There is a healthy helping of wandering, almost spacey jazz as accompaniment to them, though. A full jazz treatment takes control later in the track as a powerhouse instrumental movement. At over 13-and-a-half minutes long, this is an epic piece. It includes some frantic tribal drumming later, too.
Raw Urbane
Coming in instrumental and nearly purely jazz, only some world music styled percussion brings the African angle. This is a smoking hot jam as it gets underway. It's high energy and so classy. More world music via vocals and tribal drumming emerge at the end of this piece.
Path Of Seven Colors
Weird piano brings this in, and they begin to explore the sonic territory from there with some unusual jamming. More of a melodic and mainstream jazz jam emerges. it seems to have a bit of a Latin groove to it. There are still some unusual angles that come in here and there as it moves forward. This is not precisely a straight line, but it is an entertaining and captivating one. This keeps twisting, turning and evolving as it works forward.
The Vulgar Cycle
Coming in with a jazzy introduction, this works to pure world music, based on just tribal percussion and vocals. The tune turns to a full jazz treatment for the later instrumental portions, and it's a real powerhouse when it does.
CD 2
We All Break
An Opening

Leading out with piano, this is a powerhouse jazz romp as it gets going. There is a prominent percussion element to this cut, with some full showcases here and there.

Piano and percussion (often of the tribal variety) are the driving forces here. It turns to a full tribal jam complete with a lot of voices later.
Country Line
Piano brings this in, then percussion takes command for a while. They work together after a short drum showcase. This gets into some pretty amazing jazz jamming as it continues. There is a longer percussion work out later in the track.
Fast paced jazz starts this. It's tastefully dramatic and rather freeform as it works outward. It gets pretty crazed at times. Later in the track they take us into traditional music with vocals and percussion driving it. We're taken back into instrumental jazz zones further down the musical road.
A killer jazzy jam drives this short (a little over a minute-and-a-half) piece.
Notions Of Purity
I dig the killer piano work on this as it gets going. It's chaotic, crazed and so cool. It gets into more mainstream jazz zones for a time before moving to more freeform cacophony. It continues to shift and evolve from there. This one of the most stunning and intriguing things of the whole set.
Six A.M.
Another killer jazz romp, I love the busy percussion arrangement on this thing. It works through with cool jazz jamming until around the three-quarter mark. Then tribal drumming and traditional vocals take over, making it more of a pure world music sound.
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