Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kind of World Music

The title of this post pretty accurately describes the music found on Gilfema's new almost-self-titled "Gilfema + 2." Gilfema, a trio made up of young internationals Lionel Loueke (guitar), Ferenc Nemeth (drums) and Massimo Biolcati (bass), was first heard on their fully-self-titled debut ("Gilfema," one of the best releases of the decade), and has since been heard on Lionel Loueke's "Virgin Forest" and "Karibu" as "The Lionel Loueke Trio." Now, on their new collaborative release, they have added clarinetist Anat Cohen and bass clarinetist (and occasional ocarina player) John Ellis to the mix.

While Cohen and Ellis each have occasional solo spots and play a large part in creating the texture for the band, the full responsibility for the group's vision still falls squarely on the shoulders of Nemeth, Biolcati, and Loueke. The three split writing duties (4 tunes are Loueke's, 3 each are Nemeth's or Biolcati's), although you wouldn't know that without looking at the liner notes; the tunes all make sense together, and there is clearly a Gilfema sound that is audible throughout this and their earlier album. Musical influence comes from all over the place (the three trio members are from Benin, Italy, or Hungary, and with the addition of Ellis and Cohen they can add America and Israel to their list of countries-of-origin), but the mix is Gilfema's alone.

The key difference between "Gilfema + 2" and "Gilfema" is, as would be expected, the addition of two horn sounds into the mix. Ellis' bass clarinet adds bottom without intruding on Biolcati's bass, and Cohen's clarinet makes for an interesting counterpoint to Loueke's guitar and voice. On the track "Your World," for example, Cohen and Loueke solo at the same time, bumping ideas off of eachother and eventually hitting a crescendo with a different texture than anything on "Gilfema." This addition, however, is also "Gilfema + 2'"s major weakness; Cohen and Ellis are not as telepathic as the original trio, who have been playing together as a unit since they attended college. This weakness is hardly major though, and the addition bolsters the original trio's texture in new and interesting ways; while "Gilfema" was a fairly loose mixture of jazz and world music, "Gilfema + 2" is a tightly woven tapestry in the same vein.

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