Closing off the March series of my review round-up, is the debut album as a leader from the Paris based saxophonist, Nora Kamm. Both stylistically and instrumentally, this album is a total juxtaposition to the other albums previously covered in my March set of reviews.
The album features an international group of players, with the core group being made up of Italian Nicolas Vella on keyboards, Madagascan Ranto Rakotomalala on bass, Cameroonian Dharil Esso on drums and Brazilian Jorge Bezerra on percussion. The album also boastes an impressive list of special guests including Nguyên Lê on guitar, Cheikh Diallo on Kora, drummer Paco Sery, who plays on “Flowing People” as well as adding some enchanting vocals to the track. Also of note is vocalist Salimata “Tina” Traore who is quite amazing on the albums closing track Sensible.
Originally from Germany, Nora moved to the French city of lights in 2011 where she quickly became involved in the music and different cultures of Africa. Speaking about the album Nora stated in her press release that “For me, nothing is more precious than connecting to the world and meeting people from different backgrounds. This new album is a declaration of love to Africa. It is an osmosis between my musical universe and the rhythms and melodies of West Africa” and this describes this album to a tee.
From the opening title track “One”, through too the amazing closing track “Sensible” featuring the vocals of Salimata “Tina” Traore, sung in the Malinese “lingua franca” Bambara, this album grooves from start to finish. It’s not that easy to put this album in a box, there’s no doubt that the African roots are front and center and truly authentic, due mainly to the cast that Kamm has surrounded herself with. Yet, the album definitely does fuse some western influences largely driven by Kamm’s sax playing however also from within the compositions themselves, specifically from a harmonic perspective.
The playing on the album is exceptional, specifically in the rhythm section. The backbone, formed by Ranto Rakotomalala on bass, Dharil Esso and Jorge Bezerra on drums and percussion, drives this album to the point where it’s almost impossible to listen to this album without dancing. I really enjoyed “Coeur” featuring the distinctive guitar playing of Nguyên Lê as well as “Flowing People” that immediately led me back to the classic Weather Report album ‘Black Market”.
This album is a joy the listen to and the compositions, all composed and arranged by Kamm, are wonderful. I was fully engaged from the first track yet for me the true highlight of the album is the closing track, “Sensible”. This multi layered track has so much going on yet sounds totally homogenized. I’ve always believed that the final track on an album should leave the listener wanting more and this is definitely the case here.
If your looking for an album to lift your day, then I can’t recommend this album highly enough.
Nora Kamm – saxophones, flute, vocals | Dharil Esso – drums | Ranto Rakotomalala – bass | Nicholas Vella – keys
Nguyên Lê – guitar (2) | Paco Séry – drums (5) | Salimata « Tina » Traoré – vocals (10)
Additional instruments and vocals by:
Alvin Ahres – musical programming (10) | Jorge Bezerra – percussion | Adama Bilorou – djembe (1) | Cheikh Diallo – kora, vocals (1) | Rama Diaw – vocals (1,2,7) | Isabel Gonzalez – vocals (5) | Monika Kabasele – vocals (1,2,4,7) | Frédéric G. Kouamé – vocals (10) | Colin Laroche de Féline – guitar (3) | Ludwig Nestor – vocals (10)
1. One 3:19 | 2. Coeur 5:41 | 3. Chuku Chuku 4:05 | 4. First Flight 4:00 | 5. Flowing People 5:09 | 6. Tu ma ndem 3:38 | 7. Leader 3:43 | 8. Light 3:23 | 9. Africa my Love 4:57 | 10. Sensible 3:16
Well, that’s it for this month, tracks from all of the album’s I have reviewed and of course many more can be found on our Spotify “New Release” playlist. Next month I’ll be back with another set of reviews, so keep an eye out for this here at Jazz In Europe.
Editors Note: For those wanting to catch Nora live, she will be touring in support of the album largely in France however also with performances at the Jazztage in Bad Muskau, Germany and the Alba Jazz Festival in Italy. Full tour dates are listed below:
21/04/23 Togoville Jazzfestival (FR)
23/04/23 Togoville Jazz Festival (FR)
03/06/23 Jazztage Bad Muskau (DE)
29/06/23 Alba Jazz Festival (IT)
16/07/23 Millau Jazz Festival (FR)
17/07/23 Millau Jazz Festival (FR)
19/12/23 Saint Quay Portrieux (FR)
20/01/24 Jazz à Saint Sat (FR)
25/03/24 Aprem Jazz Quimper (FR)
New Release Spotify Playlist
The Jazz In Europe New Release playlist features tracks from the new releases featured on Jazz In Europe. Updated weekly, this playlist is the perfect place to discover new music from the leading jazz musicians currently on the scene. We hope you enjoy this selection.
Last modified: September 10, 2023