The Paxton/Spangler Septet: Ugqozi (Eastlawn, 2022)

August 28, 2022 at 5:54 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Paxton/Spangler Septet: Ugqozi

John Paxton and RJ Spangler, both of Planet D Nonet, a Detroit group that performs music from multiple eras spanning the history of jazz, turn their focus on African music on this album, which is named after the Zulu word for inspiration. Additional players on the album include members and collaborators of NOMO, the Sun Messengers, Tribe, and others. The release starts out with the joyous fanfare of “You Ain’t Gonna Know Me ‘Cos” by Mongezi Feza. Most of the other tracks are significantly longer, affording the extensive cast of musicians more room for soloing. “Part of a Whole” (written by Caiphus Semenya and recorded by Hugh Masekela in 1972) has a slower, easier, more laidback groove, but it’s still tightly performed and emergetic. “Lwandle’s Lullaby” was written by Salim Washington, who guests on the album and wrote the liner notes, and it’s one of the more reflective and lush-sounding performances on the album. Fela Kuti’s “Water No Get Enemy” similarly feels a little stretched out and unwound a bit, it’s not as punchy as the original, but it’s still highly faithful to the original; Alex Harding, who was in the Fela! musical, guests on baritone sax. Miriam Makeba’s eternal jam “Pata Pata” is given a spirited instrumental reading with some post-bop soloing. Finally, Abdullah Ibrahim’s “Jabulani – Easter Joy” starts out in an almost New Orleans-style horn procession before rapidly switching to ripping free jazz.


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