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Djabe — Lay-A-Loya
(Gramy Records GR-017, 1999, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, Published 2000-10-01

Lay-A-Loya Cover art

Djabe has released their second recording (that I am familiar with), and it differs greatly from their previous work. The four-man ensemble consists basically of a guitarist, bassist, saxophonist, and a percussionist, playing hand drums of Indonesia, Brazil, and Africa. Unlike most of the Hungarian bands of late, Djabe's sound is an international blend, eschewing completely their own country's traditions. Instead they turn outward, learning their lessons very well by absorbing a number of influences, criss-crossing the broad spectrum of modern fusion, laced with Latin and other ethnic shadings. Performance, recording, and production are top of the class. The first half of the CD sees them as a quartet in a fusion idiom mixed with funk and rock leanings, somewhere along the lines of Metheny or Herbie Hancock. The obvious melodic foundation of the compositions and the sparse amount of improvisation lends to the Djabe sound an appeal to rock listeners that this genre usually doesn't have. Bassist Barabas Tamas is the star of the show. His blistering Jaco-inspired playing provides the element of jazz that is otherwise missing. For the second half of this album they break off into duos and solos covering a a variety of stylistic sources: some Indonesian angklung (a kind of bamboo resonator), and African drums are used by percussionist Sipos Andras in a few places; and there is — for me the highlight — a very wild duet between bass and congas that really shakes the rafters, proving convincingly that Djabe is largely dominated by its bass and percussion. At the end everyone reconvenes for a simple and light melodic piece to close out the CD with a consciousness of form and shape — something I rarely find nowadays in music. Djabe have given quite a bit of thought and planning to this CD, revealed also in the wealth of artwork and live photos packed into the booklet. A nice package all the way around.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 20, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Djabe


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