Impulse Ensemble — Initiation
((Not on label) IE001, 2010, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-05-08Ethnic world jazz fusion, in general terms, is nothing new; Embryo, Paul Winter, Piirpauke, and others have been doing this a long time, but it's all the possibilities and permutations withing that style that keep it fresh and interesting, and provide plenty of as-yet-unmined territory to work within. Impulse Ensemble is a case in point, with a unique sonic palette based on the compositional ideas and instrumentation of the three musicians involved. Tony Vacca plays the balafon – a West African wooden tuned percussion instrument with resonating gourds, similar in some ways to the marimba, along with gongs, mbira, hand drums, and other percussion instruments. Jim Matus plays acoustic and electric laoutar, and Derrik Jordan plays violin, additional percussion, and sings on the album's only track with vocals "Catch That Wave." The opener "Senegal-America" at almost eleven minutes, sets the world-fusion tone for the five tracks that follow it, all group composed with the exception of the closer "Bombay," written by Vacca, which incorporates some ideas from classical Indian music, although the instrumentation brings the end result closer to an African style with Caribbean overtones. The laoutar and violin provide most of the overt melodic spirit forged within the omnipresent percussive contours, each piece being different enough from all the others to keep this energized from beginning to end. All taken, this is an excellent offering that breathes more life into this fertile genre.
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