Monday, December 5, 2011

Ebo Taylor's Love and Death

Strut Records have lined up with one of the true greats of Ghanaian music, Ebo Taylor, for his first ever internationally released studio album and lets just say it's a doozy! Love and Death is a stunningly brilliant African jazz album that has tinges of Latin music coursing through it and sounds so completely worldly and so tight that jazz junkies will stand in awe of Taylors talent and compositions. At 74, it's absolutely incredible to hear a record this vital, this alive, and dare I say it, this young coming from someone who's just about seen and done it all.

With tribal rhythms, Latin flourishes, Ghanaian vocals dotting the landscapes, and impressive instrumentation, Love and Death never disappoints. This is a record that features Afrobeat, jazz, and other influences all living together in harmony and when turned over to the Berlin based, Afrobeat Academy they take all these arrangements and sounds and run with them. The result is an album in which Taylor and his Academy cohorts transport us to the streets of Accra for a celebratory good time. Love and Death is light, airy, rhythmic and entertaining and features a couple of re-recorded Ebo Taylor classics as well as newly recorded compositions. Old or new it doesn't really matter as Taylor and the Academy lend each tune here a sense of vitality and urgency.

From the chilled horns of the title track to the newly recorded version of, "Victory," Ebo Taylor and the Afrobeat Academy play funky jazz the way you'd expect someone with loads of African, Latin, and soulful influences to play. This is a record that grooves and jams and it's in a constant state of motion. Love and Death ends up being incredibly good because it has a hard time sitting still. This is a record that even at it's slowest is still pushing things forward and Taylor succeeds in moving Afrobeat/jazz along a course chartered by him. Love and Death is an impressive display of worldly jazz that has enough funk in it's system to carry it to the promised land. Simply put Ebo Taylor has constructed a fine example of just how diverse and how cool world music can be if given half the chance; Love and Death is a great record.

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