Exposé Online banner

Ochion Jewell Quartet — Volk
(Bandcamp no#, 2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-04-20

Volk Cover art

Saxophonist Ochion Jewell’s newest quartet recording is a fascinating, wide-ranging affair that encompasses source material as diverse as folk music from Finland, Ireland, Ukraine, and Appalachia, blues from North Africa, and more. The group itself is nearly as diverse: Jewell himself hails from Kentucky, pianist Amino Belyamani is Moroccan, bassist Sam Minaie is Persian-American, and drummer Qasim Naqvi is Pakistani-American; two tracks feature appearances by West African guitarist Lionel Loueke. While all are outstanding musicians, Volk is about group cohesion, communication, and interplay. No doubt they could play the heck out of jazz standards, but their scope isn’t limited by that kind of tradition. The Finnish song, “Kun Mun Kultani Tulisi,” is one I’d heard before by the group Loituma. Here it becomes a moody epic, starting wistfully with a sad saxophone and what sounds like prepared piano, building slowly until the piano is playing insistent, dissonant chords. After an interlude similar to the opening, the second half of the track wanders into heavily improvised, very free playing from the ensemble. The Irish tune “Give Us a Drink of Water” is given a very interesting treatment, with the melody on sax and piano in unison, punctuated by dissonant stops on the bass and lower register of the piano. Later there are some very interesting advanced harmonizations. Other pieces are given similarly creative interpretations. When Loueke’s plaintive, bluesy guitar comes in, backed by mournful arco bass, we get a new take on the much-recognized similarity of North African music with American blues. When Naqvi’s rhythmic part comes in, the group settles into an easy groove that honors both traditions. The following track is “Gnawa Blues,” which features a stunning, unpredictable arrangement with hints of Béla Bartók in its rhythmic breaks. The set finishes off with a pair of American tunes, the last of which, “Black Is the Colour (of My True Love’s Hair),” is given a solo treatment for Jewell’s sax. Volk is a bold statement of entry for a major new artist in jazz, sure to garner accolades far and wide if it can reach the right ears.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Ochion Jewell

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Court - Frost of Watermelon – A recent stateside tour was the first I had heard of this Italian quintet since their two WMMS label releases over a decade ago. What is surprising is how little has changed with their sound in the...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues