Jowee Omicil - Roots and Grooves (2010)

Jowee Omicil
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Haiti is never far from saxophonist Jowee Omicil's mind. Omicil is Canadian born and of Haitian descent, and he's been profoundly affected by the events that have taken place in that island nation over the last two years. Omicil wrote the song "4 My People" in 2008 as a tribute to those affected by the massive flooding that killed scores of people. An even larger tragedy struck the island nation this year when a massive earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians. So when Omicil prepared to release the very good Roots & Grooves this year, it made sense to include "4 My People." While "4 My People" is dedicated to the residents of Omicil's native land, the music of the Caribbean and Africa infuse the entire album.

Haiti is never far from saxophonist Jowee Omicil's mind. Omicil is Canadian born and of Haitian descent, and he's been profoundly affected by the events that have taken place in that island nation over the last two years. Omicil wrote the song "4 My People" in 2008 as a tribute to those affected by the massive flooding that killed scores of people. An even larger tragedy struck the island nation this year when a massive earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians. So when Omicil prepared to release the very good Roots & Grooves this year, it made sense to include "4 My People." While "4 My People" is dedicated to the residents of Omicil's native land, the music of the Caribbean and Africa infuse the entire album.

Roots & Grooves is a jazz album that follows in the tradition of artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and other jazz greats in taking the music back to its roots - namely Africa . Like his jazz predecessors, Omicil proves that he is equally capable of fusing jazz with world music from Haiti , Cuba and the African continent. The songs on Roots & Grooves feature traditional percussion instruments. Drums and deep bass grooves that harken back to the island and Africa give Roots & Grooves a strong world music component. Meanwhile, the inspired and creative soloing that can be heard on tunes such as "Wole" and "Micky's Groove" definitely marks Roots & Grooves as a jazz album. Omicil opts for the clarinet on the jaunty "Micky's Groove," and that gives the tune a feel that is both pensive and playful.

It is sometimes easy to forget that influence that the Caribbean and Africa have played on our culture - and especially our music. That forgetting has been aided and abetted by the fact that music education in our schools is nowhere near as strong as it once was. On Roots & Grooves, Jowee Omicil makes a compelling musical point that the music of the Caribbean and ultimately Africa are the root of the many grooves that make up American music - and the acknowledgement of that debt sounds just great.

Notable Tracks: 4 My People, Wole, Min Yo, Ayibobo

Vocals: N/A
Lyrics: N/A
Music: 3.5
Production: 3.5
Soultracks call: Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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