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

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Asgard - Imago Mundi – This, Asgard's fourth album, covers plenty of new territory, recaptures some of the lost ground from their original sound, and offers a quite a bit more accessibility - while maintaining a generally...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues