Tomas Doncker - Power Of The Trinity

Tomas Doncker
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Tomas Doncker’s fierce hunger in his songwriting abilities, musicality and independent artistry has produced a fruitful and fascinating musical path.  With over twenty years invested in the progressive New York City ‘No Wave’ movement, his guitar contributions with bands that encompassed blues/funk (Defunkt) and punk/jazz (James Chance & The Contortions) was just a glimpse of this multi-faceted vocalist/musician.   In the past few years, the Brooklyn native Doncker has vastly expanded his musical horizons outside the ‘No Wave’ world, working with blues great Bonnie Raitt and former P-Funk member Amp Fiddler.  For a season, Doncker traveled extensively to Japan and the West Indies and was the first U.S.

Tomas Doncker’s fierce hunger in his songwriting abilities, musicality and independent artistry has produced a fruitful and fascinating musical path.  With over twenty years invested in the progressive New York City ‘No Wave’ movement, his guitar contributions with bands that encompassed blues/funk (Defunkt) and punk/jazz (James Chance & The Contortions) was just a glimpse of this multi-faceted vocalist/musician.   In the past few years, the Brooklyn native Doncker has vastly expanded his musical horizons outside the ‘No Wave’ world, working with blues great Bonnie Raitt and former P-Funk member Amp Fiddler.  For a season, Doncker traveled extensively to Japan and the West Indies and was the first U.S. artist to headline the annual Shanghai (China) Folk Festival.  He finally debuted as a solo recording artist in 2007 with his mellow pop, soul and world music hybrid, Inside Out.  Doncker then joined forces with poet Yusef Komunyakka and other New York ‘No Wave’ collaborators like Corey Glover as The Shape Shifter Ensemble for The Mercy Suite – a more ambitious effort depicting songs of love and war. 

Recently, Doncker is firmly grasping more of his role as a global soul ambassador; fully recalling his school days where multi-cultures were embraced.  One particular place that pricked Doncker’s heart was helping the continent of Africa.  His composition, “Children of Darfur,” was the focal point to what would launch a mini series beginning with his third disc, Small World.  His honest sentiments about impressing his audience with his world vision are best explained on the Small World’s title track:  “The world inside my head is not outside my window.”  

The second and latest in this series, Power of the Trinity, is a moving dedication to Ethiopia and its revered leader, Haile Selassie; originally based as a play by the late Roland Wolf.  Doncker spins his gentle tenor and fusion of popish soul and African tones with appearances from two generations of Ethiopian musicians, Selam Woldermarium and Gigi, and several New York based musical associates.  The roots reggae soundtrack of “Selassie” gives gratitude to the Emperor’s impact on Ethiopia during World War II: “He came to lead his country against depression and tyranny.” “Seven Sons” pays respect to one of Ethiopia’s influential urban musicians Ibex Band with its jazz-tinged horn section of Steven Bernstein & Peter Apfelobaum.  The somber poem, K’Rar, paced by Woldermarium’s ornate guitar lines, steady bass drum and Komunyakka’s brief but eloquent poetic meter, unveils three-thousand years of inspirations that defines Ethiopian history: “From the goatherd/ To the King of Kings/ To Bob Marley” and “the natural blues of the saxophone.”  Bill Laswell’s muscular bass guitar, Gigi’s dizzying soprano and Doncker’s understated voice create a magnetic African painting on “Conscience of the World.”  The clicking percussion and Peter Apfelbaum’s bluesy saxophone accent Jah-Rusalem that flows with an uncontrived spiritual joy celebrating the country’s prominent Christian faith:  “Take my sorrow/Take my shame/Blessed be Your holy name.”  The words are few, but the intention of the funky Afro-Beat driven “Justice is Due” resonates strongly:  “We are living proof that justice is due.”  Doncker’s personal thanks to everyone from Brooklyn to Ethiopia is a kicking jazzed up party co-hosted by dub master Dr. Israel and backed by plenty of snare punches and dancing horns from Bernstein and Paul Shapiro.

Doncker’s on-point musicality connects the Ethiopian traditions with soulful pop brilliance throughout Power of the Trinity. Overall, there is very little to fault with the exception of “Only the Faithful” that fails to spark the intended spirit of the remaining pieces.  Otherwise, Power of the Trinity is an invigorating excursion of Doncker’s journey from Brooklyn to Ethiopia and continues an impressive chapter in his ever fascinating independent music artistry. Highly Recommended.

By Peggy Oliver

 
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