Build An Ark
Like George W’s coalition of the willing, Build An Ark is the result of a similar collective gathered in an effort against a perceived evil. Where W’s concern was with ‘possible’ threats and likely monetary gains (OIL) for his capitalist regime, Build An Ark face a very real and very present threat. Granted, by now much of the dust has settled (the album was released smack in the middle of the invasion on Iraq) and a remix of this album is ready to hit store shelves, but the message of this group must continue to make an impact and continue resonating as wars continue to begin and end.There is a small army of talented musicians on this recording, and they are led by producer Carlos Nino (of Ammoncontact) and vocalist Dwight Trible. I’m goiogn to name the whole group to give everyone their due, so here it goes, in no particular order: Peter Harris, Mark (and his son, Miles) Maxwell, Bob Wisdom, Gaby Hernandez, Carlos Nino, Derf Reklaw, Baba Alade, Joshua Spiegelman, Dwight Trible, Nate Morgan, Alan Lightner, B+, Debra Pill, Andres Renteria, Tracey Hart, Phil Ranelin, Lesa Terry, Adam Rudolph, Damon Aaron and James Richards. Phew.
Peace With Every Step is comprised of long numbers and a few short interludes (you know, something like Music Has the Right to Children), and they are all beautiful. Actually, also like that IDM record, some of the short interludesa are just as interesting if not more so than some of the full length tracks. “Japan” and “The Stars Are Singing Too” are both beautiful little passages. As for the songs, they range from carefully composed jazz tracks to all out drum circles (“Nu Baya Roots”). “Peace and Love” could have fit nicely onto What’s Going On, its message just as melodic and urgent as that album’s title track. There are lovely collective compositions (read: improvisations), tracks like “Village Soft” fill out the album with almost intuitive rhythms. “The Blessing Song” is like a mini choir celebration after having won the fight against war itself.
“Love Is Our Nationality” is my favorite track here. Dwight Trible sings “put down your gun, pick up your baby.” Lyrics like “swallow your mushroom cloud” and “let’s make peace and stop the war” resonate with heart gripping urgency. The “giddy up, giddy up’s” almost compel you to start embracing peace right when you here them. “Pure imagination/Tortoise and the Hare” follows with lovely, hopeful vocal and guitar by Baba Alade. Flute and percussion soon join to create an all-across-the-world melody.
The influences are far and wide, you’ll hear everyone from Sun Ra to Coltrane, not to mention the already established musicians in the group. What this equals is one of the most impressive musical statements you’re likely to have heard in this area of music. One of the best jazz albums in a while? Yes. One of the most political albums in music this year? You betcha.
- Andrew Iliadis