Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Gilfema + 2: Second CD, Two Guests

Gilfema + 2

Gilfema is a band. That is somewhat rare in jazz, where most successful combos support a leader or occasionally co-leaders. Although sometimes all three perform together as the Lionel Loueke Trio, as Gilfema they do things the cooperative way, which is reflected in the even distribution of composing duties on their second release, Gilfema + 2.

If you accompanied Gilfema on tour, you would hear a lot of highly melodic, upbeat jazz, built atop various grooves and world music influences. You could also probably learn how to cuss in several new languages, given the origins of the band members. Loueke hails from the West African nation of Benin (official language French). Bassist Massimo Biolcati is Swedish-Italian and drummer Ferenc Nemeth is Hungarian. Where did they meet? New York City, of course. For G+2, the trio added two clarinets, Anat Cohen from Israel, and John Ellis, playing the bass variety.

Right from the introductory notes of Loueke’s “Twins,” G+2 has a fresh, clean sound. Here the composer’s vocals sound great layered above the deep rich clarinets. Nemeth’s “Question of Perspective” nicely employs voice, guitar and clarinet in unison, for another very hummable up-tempo track. For infectious funk though, Loueke’s “Your World,” lays down the most addictive groove of the CD. A killer track, it is definitely a highlight of the release.

Consistently melodic and buoyant, G+2 is probably at its most subdued on Biolcati’s cool-toned “One Mind’s Eye” and Nemeth’s relaxed “Morning Dew,” while “Salome” probably uses the darkest aural colors of G+2, allowing ample space for a bass solo from the composer. In general though, the session is an upbeat, high energy affair, as on “Festa,” which almost has a pseudo-calypso thing going on, capped off by a cool little coda from Loueke.

Incorporating a bit of highlife and bit of jam band, Gilfema play jazz you can dance too. In a way, they are heirs to Hugh Masekela, at least during his funky but still legit Chisa years (before the disco abominations). Though Loueke is undoubtedly the best known of the three, all have recorded under their own names (including Biolcati’s recent debut as a leader Persona, also on ObliqSound). They form a cohesive unit on G+2, seamlessly integrating the two guest clarinets into the mix. It all makes for a really distinct sound, as they create music that is actually fun to listen