Path of Seven Colors
“Path of Seven Colors”
Adventurous jazz fans may recognize the name Ches Smith from his work alongside avant-garde artist such as Marc Ribot, Darius Jones and Kris Davis, or perhaps from his group Hammered Arches or his 2016 ECM release The Bell with Craig Taborn and Mat Maneri. The New York-based drummer also harbors a long-held fascination with Haitian music, a passion that was sparked by his accompaniment of a Haitian dance class more than 20 years ago. He formed his group We All Break to blend traditional Haitian rhythms with jazz composition and improvisation, and the band released its self-titled debut in 2015. On their new release, Path of Seven Colors (Pyroclastic), Smith has expanded the model of piano and three drums to an octet, adding another drummer, a bassist, a saxophone and a vocalist to his original format. The results are quite heady, the battery of drums creating mesmerizing backings for the swirl of instrumental and vocal colors, all of which evoke the mystery of Vodou culture. The title track, an instrumental, begins with Matt Mitchell’s ominous piano shadowed by light percussive touches. The tune builds to a brisk trot with the introduction of Miguel Zenón’s saxophone, Nick Dunston’s bass and more insistent drumming. Mitchell and Zenón each take point, the polyphonic drumming energizing their somewhat frantic leads with an undercurrent of anxiety. Smith credits drummer Daniel Brevil for much of We All Break’s repertoire, either through his compositions or his research into traditional Haitian music, the lines of which they happily blur.