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Country : Belgium Label : Sdban Ultra Genres and styles : Afrobeat / Ethiopian Jazz / Jazz / Psych-Funk Year : 2022

Black Flower – Magma

· by Rupert Bottenberg

Belgian unit Black Flower can boast Beck, Calexico, Marc Ribot, and Lee Perry on their collective curriculum vitae, so capable playing is assured in this endeavour of stylistically porous, frequently funky jazz. Led by Nathan Daems (sax and other wind instruments), the quintet’s other members are cornetist Jon Birdsong, drummer Simon Segers, bassist Filip Vandebril and organist Karel Cuelenaere. A recent addition to the band, Cuelenaere has certainly found his place—his serpentine, high-register Ethiopian motifs are a primary ingredient here. So are Segers’s frequent slips into Afro polyrhythms, but let it be clear that what Black Flower does is quite distinct from the ethnomusicological tribute bands one finds on many a festival’s “world” stage. There’s an awful lot more going on in the grooves of Magma. The endless bit and pieces to be picked apart are certainly one of the record’s pleasures, yet the compositions are never unnecessarily cluttered. This is also despite a decidedly democratic disposition, giving each instrument equal say in all matters. Further to the credit of Daems and company are the simple and effective melodic ideas that guide the tracks, warm, expressive, and notably hopeful. Their evocations of sounds from beyond Belgium’s borders are about optimism rather than mysticism. Highlights include the scintillating “Half Liquid” and the album’s one track with vocals (care of award-winning singer Meskerem Mees), “Morning In The Jungle.”

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