Saturday, February 1, 2020

Jamie Saft "New Zion Trio" @ Salle Jacques Brel, Fontenay-sous-Bois - February 1st, 2020

New York keyboardist Jamie Saft has been presenting his New Zio Trio in one form or another for several years now. In this incarnation, the rhythm section is comprised of Bradley Jones on bass and Hamid Drake on drums and needless to say, the groove is relentless. They lay down a dub foundation upon which Saft builds his cathedrals of sound. Hidden sound manipulator Christian Castagno adds depth and textures to the whole thing by adding reverb and echo.

The sound can best be described as long improvisational jazz scapes over a drum 'n' bass foundation. Unfortunately, Castagno's "live dubs" occasionally distract from the performances, such as when he loops guest vocalist Vanessa Saft's voice on the lone real song of the set, but mostly they work as a highlighter and enhancer of mood.

There is no real star or focal point: the treat is in the interaction between the players. They are all virtuosos in their own right, but they work together in service of the mood and groove, building their repetitive patterns and motifs into a trance. Rhythms from Africa and the Caribbean merge with melodies from Europe and the Middle-East to create an evocative, lysergic sound that engulfed the audience.

A fantastic set of challenging music played with ease and good nature by masters of their craft.

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