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One World by Andy McKee

Former Mingus Big Band and Elvin Jones Jazz Machine bassist Andy McKee is joined here by drummer Idris Muhammad, vibraphone and marimba player Joe Locke, and saxophonist Alex Foster (doubling on bass clarinet and piccolo) on one of the most enjoyable recordings of the year. In addition to glorious acoustic bass work, McKee’s exceptional compositional skills and arrangements abound on this 9-song gem. The opening "Finders Keepers" is reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders with Foster’s expansive tenor dominating the percussive rhythm section. Locke offers a breathtaking vibes solo here, as well. "Losers Weepers," on the other hand, has a more pensive tone that recalls classic John Klemmer.

Foster’s piccolo on "Folk Song," played over bass and vibraphones, has an almost celtic quality, while on Locke’s "Accolades" bass and marimba set a rhythmic pattern that builds in intensity with the addition of Badal Roy’s tasteful percussive work and Foster’s burning tenor.

Foster’s bass clarinet and soprano on "Ilf’s Dance" are mesmerizing, though it is McKee’s anchor that drives the piece and Badal Roy’s and Milton Cardonna’s percussion that give it texture.

"Fire Sign" with Foster again on soprano and the following "Earth Sign" are a study in opposites, with the former played at a medium to quick tempo and the latter taking a more introspective and tantalizing pace. Bass, percussion and saxophone create a mood here that is tangibly dense, redolent of jungle and underbrush, with the promise of a hidden musical temple looming in the unseen distance. If the most successful music is able to paint a picture in the mind’s eye, this excels.

The closing "Prayer," witnesses McKee playing lead on a marvelously passionate and melodic arco bass over Kenny Werner’s equally expressive piano. This is a gorgeous piece of music and is a perfect bookend to the fiery fervor of the opening piece.

This is a recording deserving of a much greater audience than it is likely to find on this relatively small label. For my money, it’s simply one of the best independently produced recordings of 2002. Maybe one of the year’s best, period.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Andy McKee
  • CD Title: One World
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Consolidated Artists Productions
  • Rating: Four Stars
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