Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone, Michael Wimberley - Beneath Tones Floor (Nobusiness, 2010) ****

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By Stef

So far, I have only reviewed one CD, Nigeria, by saxophonist Oluyemi Thomas, and I praised it for its poetic power.That I have not reviewed many albums by him has more to do with his limited number of recordings than with the quality of his playing.

Thomas, wo plays bass clarinet, flute, soprano, musette and percussion on this album is joined by the late Sirone on bass and Michael Wimberly on drums. As on “Nigeria," the poetic power is still present, in the best of free jazz improvisations, with incredible openness, a total lack of structure, plenty of soloing. The album was recorded in 2008, in the year before the great bassist passed away. And for his fans—this is a must-have : there is as much soloing by Sirone as by the reedist, a real treat.

The absolute power of this album is the common language of all three musicians. Thomas' is much more an emotional player than a technical performer, and his notes are warm, sensitive, expressive, full of spiritual and human physicality at the same time, qualities that are all too present in Sirone's playing too. I did not know Michael Wimberley, and he is great in this setting, often taking a step back, letting the two other players do their thing, but he is magnificent in his rumbling duet with Thomas on “Dream Worlds."

This is deep music, as its title suggests, free in the associations, but not in loudness or volume, quite on the contrary, it is about timbre, about the coloring of feeling, the expression of universal emotions that can only manifest themselves through music ... and all this in a quite intimate setting. Expansive intimacy is the paradox that comes to mind, and possibly describes the inherent tension in the music quite well.


Oluyemi Thomas—Positive Knowledge (Not Two, 2010)

Regular readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of spoken word, and that I am not a fan of poetry in music and that I am not a fan of vocal jazz, and if it sometimes does work quite well, very often it leaves me totally non-plussed. I hate the exalted tone, the thematic clichés, the preachy attitude, or just “the attitude." That's a very personal remark, and possibly not a nice one. It prevents me even from listening to the music.

The band is a family affair with Oluyemi Thomas on bass clarinet, musette, soprano and percussion, Ijeoma Thomas on voice and percussion, Kenn Thomas on piano, and Michael Bisio on bass, the latter being quite prominent on this blog lately.

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This story appears courtesy of Free Jazz by Stef Gijssels.
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