By Hrayr Attarian
Art “Turk” Burton Ancestral Spirits
Art “Turk” Burton – Congas
Ari Brown - Tenor and soprano saxophone, and piano
Edwin Daughtery - alto and soprano saxophone
Maggie Brown – Vocals
Eddie Beard - Piano and organ
Dushun Mosley - Drums
Yosef Ben Israel – Bass
Sammie “Cha-Cha” Torres- Bongo and percussion
Luis “Preito” Rosario - Timbales.
On the exuberant Ancestral Spirits, his second release as a leader, conguero Art “Turk” Burton leads a percussion heavy band through a riotous interpretation of six standards and two originals. The energetic and infectious music is unsurprisingly visceral and moving while having a subtle elegant complexity to it.
Opening the disc is Burton’s “Soul Drummers”. Bassist Yosef Ben Israel‘s muscular refrains, together with percussionist Sammie “Cha-Cha” Torres’ shakers, set the framework for this spoken word composition. Vocalist Maggie Brown recites the lyrics about Jazz percussionists with fervor and dramatic flair. A long congas solo ushers in the conclusion with poignancy and passion.
Brown enriches pieces like “Night in Tunisia” and “Freedom Jazz Dance” with her agile voice and her rich and emotive delivery. On the first she scats and sings with virtuosity and her signature soulfulness while on the second her expressive vocals mirror saxophonist Ari Brown’s boisterous reverberating lines.
Ari Brown and fellow saxophonist Edwin Daughtery wail and honk in a fiery and angular duet on the title track. Burton, drummer Dushun Mosley, timbales player Luis “Preito” Rosario and Torres on bongas buoy and propel Brown and Daughtery’s performance with their collective thundering beats.
Expansive percussion improvisations abound throughout and, sometimes, they go on for a tad too long, while at others, they are perfectly balanced. An example of the former is the Latin flavored “Killer Joe”. After the saxophonist embellish the melody pianist Eddie Beard infuses the music with bluesy hints and cascading crystalline notes. The last half of the song is taken up by a four-way percussion interplay that, despite its intricacy and multiple layers gets a bit hypnotic.
In contrast the funky “Listen Here” integrates the drumming within the framework of the tune. Burton supports and receives support from Beard whose block chords simmer with soul as they fade in and out of the percussive backdrop.
This album leaves no doubt that Burton is an inventive and brilliant musician with a style simultaneously unique and rooted in tradition particularly that of Chicago’s creative music scene. Hopefully he will continue to lead sessions in the near future to add to his superb yet meager discography.