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Tribal Jazz by Various

Now, here’s an interesting collection of unique tunes from the folks at Hidden Beach who brilliantly birthed the Unwrapped series a series of albums with really strong and vibrant blends of hip hop and smooth jazz. The idea caught like wildfire, and they’ve had hit CD after hit CD. Now, with "Tribal Jazz," they bring us yet another hybrid especially for those yearning for more of the mix of Caribbean rhythms and jazz (the Rippingtons, among others, have already tapped into that concept and energy but maybe on another plain). The CD is apparently not yet available, as I have an advance copy at present...but look out for it.

This CD strives to cover as much of this mix as can be imagined. Track 1, "Skytrails," features some delightful flute work with some solid straight-ahead piano laced with Caribbean undertones and steady, ever-present drums.

Track 2, "Blues for Bali," is also heavy on straight-ahead piano and some very blue, soothing sax work. It settles one down to simply enjoy it. No dancing inspired here, unless you’re slowly swaying with your baby (not a bad idea at all, right?).

Track 3, "La Tormentas (Riders on the Storm)," brings us some cha-cha and merengue-laced Caribbean flavor, heavy on flute and percussions--and hinting at some cool blues progressions, as well. I could even hear a bit of "Watermelon Man," here. I found this cut most appealing, especially with its funky, Ramsey Lewis-like piano work.

Track 4, "Vegetable Wizard," opens with the unique touch of crickets in the background and a French-speaking narrator. This one takes us by the hand and proceeds to engage in some Brazilian jazz with great sax and piano work. A very nice, smooth composition, indeed! Track 5. "Orange Midnite/Tranetime," is an interesting two-parter with the first part focusing on the CD’s Caribbean direction. Part II features Alfe Woodard paying a narrative tribute to Coltrane against a refreshingly melodic and rhythmic backdrop.

The CD continues consistently along this vein. Of special note for me is track 8, "Violet Love," a moving li’l smooth piece that features lots of funky keys and heavy sax. This is perhaps my favorite cut on the CD. Track 9, "Riders on the Storm," featuring the late Jim Morrison, also invites you to get up and show off your Caribbean dance skills. Some really nice vibe work here, as well. Track 10, "Violet Love (Remix)," while coming at you with funky rhythms, brings with it a disturbing narration/rap including images of blood and vampires. An odd piece for this otherwise cleverly composed CD.

Not really one for this smooth jazzer, this project shows that the Hidden Beach producers are ready, willing, and able to appeal to almost any of the diversified tastes of jazz mixtures and subgenres.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various
  • CD Title: Tribal Jazz
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Hidden Beach Recordings
  • Tracks: Skytrails, Blues for Bali, La Tormentas (Riders on the Storm), Vegetable Wizard, Orange Midnite/Tranetime (featuring Alfre Woodard), Piano Solo, Lyria, Violet Love, Riders on the Storm (featuring Jim Morrison), Violet Love (Remix, featuring Michael Franti)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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