Sensuous African and Latin soul jazz on New Cool Collective’s eleventh album New Cool Collective Big Band Featuring Thierno Koité.
Thierno Koité, Benjamin Herman, Miquel Martinez, Efraim Trujillo, Wouter Schueler & Tini Thomsen (saxophone), Jelle Schouten, Joe Rivera, David Rockefeller & Randall Heye (trumpet), Bart Lust, Frans Cornelissen, Kees Adolfsen & Andre Pet (trombone), Rory Ronde (guitar), Willem Friede (electric piano), Leslie Lopez (bass), Joost Kroon (drums), Jos de Haas & Frank van Dok (percussion)
in 2016 at Wisseloord Studio, Hilversum
Dox 273 in 2017
Eclecticism is a main ingredient in the career of New Cool Collective and Benjamin Herman, the alto saxophonist who founded the octet/big band nearly 25 years ago. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that after the trademark exotica set of Electric Monkey Sessions (2014) and collaboration with pop act Matt Bianco’s Mark Reilly The Things You Love (2016), the group releases an album with the Senegalese saxophonist Thierno Koité. In between, New Cool Collective also supported the popular Dutch singer, Gentleman-Next-Door Guus Meeuwis on his album Hollandse Meesters. Which undoubtly was a bridge too far for part of the public. It kept my eyelashes blinking 24/7 for 247 days on end, but, actually, it was a most excellent affair in that popular genre, courtesy of New Cool Collective’s nimble and buoyant accompaniment. Love for all things outlandish, with no distinction between high or low-brow, is also a feature of New Cool Collective and Benjamin Herman. In this respect, the altoist has always been gladly following the footsteps of one of his heroes, the recently deceased pianist Misha Mengelberg.
Above all, the dance groove has been essential for the welfare and recognition of New Cool Collective. The prize-winning band turns many a hall and audience upside down and has been touring the globe for years. In the department of lively, both hip-shaking and intelligent music, Featuring Thierno Koité is no exception. The seeds of the album were sown in 2012, when New Cool Collective toured in Senegal and met Koité, who has been a key figure in West African music since the seventies and the leader of the acclaimed Orchestra Baobab. In December 2016, New Cool Collective performed with Koite and recorded this album of Koité originals, co-compositions and NCC tunes.
Koité is a humble altoist, never pushes a message down the throat but instead, like a grandaddy telling a story to his grandson, playfully weaves together lines. A hypnotic style with indelible timing and a dusty, small tone. Not timid by all means, but forceful in its own sweet way. Myster Tier, a lovely tune with a catchy stop-time theme and tricky rhythmic layout, finds the unpredictable Koité slithering through the melody like a rattlesnake. Squiggly lines abound also in Thierno. Koité’s alluring mix of staccato and sing-songy phrases contrast nicely with Benjamin Herman’s sweet-sour solo of lingering, liquid silver notes. If a couple of tunes navigate closely to the all-too spotless shores of basic Latin rhythm, Koité and the other outstanding contributors always add enough spicy statements to save the day. And unfazed, the soft-hued Koité rides the waves of New Cool Collective’s heavier tunes like Chega and Pambiche.
Spinning the disc alongside Calexico, Fela Kuti or, say, Ry Cooder’s Talking Timbuktu would be a far from odd listening choice for a sizzling sunny afternoon. Most of all, the indomitable conversation of Koité’s alto sax with the big band’s smart West-Afro-Groove turns Featuring Thierno Koité into another significant addition to the catalogue of New Cool Collective.
Find New Cool Collective Big Band Featuring Thierno Koité on Dox Records here.
Check out the website of New Cool Collective here.
Play Myster Tier on Spotify below.