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Today’s desert island disc: Kahil El’Zabar’s Ritual Trio, Live at the River East Art Center

Ritual Trio Live

Sometimes, the music you don’t understand is the music that touches you most deeply. I’ve never been much of a jazz listener; I’ve skirted around it for years, essentially avoiding bebop in its myriad permutations, and enjoying traditional jazz, some fusion and a lot of the more postmodern artists influenced by hip hop or country, such as Medeski Martin & Wood and Bill Frisell – music that’s technically jazz, but also, in some fundamental way, not. Kahil El’Zabar’s Ritual Trio falls into this category. Originally a trio but consisting of four musicians for a decade or so, the Ritual Trio features amazing, African, tribal-sounding percussion, a deep, rumbling and melodic double bass, a tenor saxophone and an electric violin. The music has lots of space and passion. It’s very spiritual and soulful, develops slowly and unfolds into moments of extreme beauty and power, similar in impact to Fela Kuti maybe, or the spirit of Miles Davis when he played an improvised sort of ‘voodoo funk’ on 1970s live records like Dark Magus and Live-Evil.

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