Sonic Liberation Front: Change Over Time

Sonic Liberation Front - Change Over Time

Sonic Liberation Front - Change Over Time

  1. The Next Thing That Happens Download The Next Thing That Happens
  2. D’Accord, Baby
  3. Dominical
  4. First Rain
  5. Omio
  6. Glass Eyes
  7. Ouaga to Bobo
  8. Change Over Time

Kevin Diehl – drums, Yoruba-Cuban percussion, electronica
Chuckie Joseph – drums, Yoruba-Cuban percussion, vocals, guitar
Julian Pressly – saxophone
Dan Scofield – saxophone
Matt Engle – bass
Rich Robinson  – Yoruba-Cuban percussion
Ira Bond  – Yoruba-Cuban percussion
Bart Miltenberger – trumpet

Sonic Liberation Front is a band without peers. The amorphous Philadelphia unit has essentially created its own genre in its evolution as a band. Combining free jazz with Afro-Cuban percussion and modern electronics, Sonic Liberation Front has forged an incredible sound assemblage – one that has sailed to new levels on Change Over Time.

While others simply talk of combining the ancient with the futuristic, SLF have done so. More than any other band on the scene today, SLF is continuing on the paths of Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and Art Ensemble of Chicago – new dimensions of folk art forms for tomorrow.

After previous collaborations with such luminary jazz artists as Sunny Murray, Andy Gonzales, and Badal Roy, SLF recruited veteran saxophonist Julian Pressley (sideman for Illinois Jacquet and Odean Pope) into the fold for Change Over Time. Pressley’s contributions to the musical direction of Kevin Diehl (a student of Murray) and Chuckie Joseph (a Yoruban cultural scholar) gives the new version of SLF an incredibly authentic center that the ensemble builds on throughout Change Over Time’s eight diverse compositions.

In 1999, Sonic Liberation Front formed as innovative project to combine free jazz, Afro-Cuban percussion, and electronics. The result was a one-of-a-kind band that broke down genre distinctions for undeniably brilliant concoction. Since then, though, SLF has building on that foundation – turning a unique concept into a great thing.

Like species who adapt to their climates, the aptly-titled Change Over Time shows a band that is getting stronger as they adjust. Change is certainly the theme of the music here, as SLF has re-tooled with new members and an exciting array of new compositions. Twelve musicians play on Change Over Time, with only three holdovers from SLF’s last album.

Despite the turnover, SLF’s third album (and second for High Two) follows up where its 2004 tour de force Ashé A Go-Go left off. Ashé received wonderful praise from nearly everyone who heard the album, garnering attention from Pitchforkmedia.com, Village VoiceJazzTimesThe Wire, and others around the world for its brilliance and innovation.

On Change Over Time, Sonic Liberation Front experiments with even more different types of percussion. In addition to a Western drum kit, the album includes iya, itotele, tumbador, segundo, quinto, djembe, doundoun, kinkini, and surdo on the album. SLF isn’t just using different drums for the sake of it – each instrument is well-placed accent within the music.

One of the things that sets SLF apart from most jazz or world music groups is how its music is recorded. Great attention is given in the arrangement and recording of the music to give the listener a unique experience. While most groups have horns and vocals out front with percussion to support, SLF seeks to reverse that. Sonic Liberation Front has the drums out front so that the listener hears the band the way the drummers hear it. When listening to Change Over Time, the urgency of the percussive attack is paramount, but it also doesn’t take away from the intricacy of the hornplay.

What makes Change Over Time SLF’s best album to date is the increased focus on varied songwriting and maintaining a cohesiveness across diverse compositions. Whether it is the rhumba of “First Rain,” the balladry of “Omio,” the electrolayered “D’Accord, Baby,” the noise extrapolations of “Ouaga to Bobo,” the percussion-centered “The Next Thing That Happens,” the jazz-centered “Dominical” and “Glass Eyes,” or the dark funk of “Change Over Time” – all the SLF tracks fuse together into an extremely potent body of work.

Perhaps the most striking and unique of all of SLF’s songs ever is Change Over Time‘s title track. Featuring Julian Pressley and other SLFers just straight talking trash atop an infectious rhythm – it makes the listener feel like they are walking right into a party. A fine way to end a fine album.

Also of note is that SLF includes half of Shot × Shot, the young Philadelphia jazz quartet that released its debut on High Two in April 2006 to rave reviews from MagnetDownbeatThe WireSignal to Noise, and others. Bassist Matt Engle and saxophonist Dan Scofield split time in both groups and each contributes a composition toChange Over Time.

Point of Departure {Bill Shoemaker, Jan 2007} “Philadelphia’s Sonic Liberation Front is well on its way to becoming one of the more important American ensembles of the decade. Their mix of post-Coleman jazz, Afro-Cuban folkloric music and electronica manages to be immediately accessible without diluting any of its constituent parts.”

Jazzwise (UK) “Excellent Philadelphia octet centering on the Yoruba drums of Kevin Diehl, with Ornette/Cherrylike horns, chant and hints of electronics in a hypnotic set played with both intensity and a sense of abandon.”

All About Jazz NY {Jeff Stockton, Jan 2007} “As you would expect from a band led by drummers, the music leads with an African-Cuban- Caribbean percussive attack that reminds you of David Murray’s work with the Gwo-Ka Masters, Fela’s blend of ripping saxophone, multiplicity of drums and hypnotic vocals and, when they talk trash and funk it up on the title track, the Rebirth Brass Band. . . . Sonic Liberation Front makes jazz music with ears tuned to the big world around them.”

Consumer Guide {Tom Hull, Jan 2007} “Kevin Diehl’s Afro-Cuban percussion continues to amaze, especially when Dan Scofield’s avant-rooted sax skips and skids over the complex beats”

Philadelphia City Paper {Shaun Brady, Dec. 7, 2006} “SLF often counters the looseness of a drum circle with the rigor of tightly composed melody lines — then lets the horns fly free while the percussionists chant over a tight, interlocking rhythm. Then there’s the collision of old world and new, as traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms contend with electronic loops and cut-up bursts.”

Descarga {Peter Watrous, Feb. 6, 2007} “Editor’s Pick: Here’s an idea that hasn’t really taken off, which is surprising: the group, from Philadelphia, mix Afro Cuban religious percussion with a sort of free/post/bop jazz approach. At times it could be related to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, let’s say, with some electronica thrown in. Whatever the references, it’s good, the eight piece group (with four guests), rocking in rhythm, the music big and broad and open, another innovation in the rapidly growing field of Latin jazz, Santeria meets the avant guard. Highly good and highly recommended”

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