Wednesday, April 13, 2016

3rd World Electric - 2009 "Kilimanjaro Secret Brew"

A couple of years ago, Roine Stolt recognized that an overdose of Flower Kings material threatened to deter the fans, so he decided to concentrate on some new projects. One of these projects was Agents Of Mercy, still in the familiar territory of prog, but his latest one 3rd World Electric is something different. At least, for Stolt, but not for the music lover because Kilimanjaro Secret Brew takes us back deep into the seventies fusion and jazz-rock scene.

De CD-cover reminds me of the Miles Davis-albums, but the musical style is pure Weather Report. The dominant role of the saxophone and the percussion makes this mixture of jazz, world-music and rock a real tribute to the music Joe Zawinul and his men made in those early days. 3rd World Electric also consists of excellent musicians, just as the groups in those days. Next to guitarist Roine Stolt, we find his band mates bass player Jonas Reingold, drummer Zoltan Csörz, Rhodes-keyboardist Lalle Larson, saxophonist Karl Martin Almqvist - who really does a first-rate job - percussionist Ayi Solomon and even famous drummer Dave Weckl on two tracks.

All tracks on this album last between five and ten minutes, which must have been quite a constraint for Stolt, but it’s a relief for the listeners as these songs manage to keep their attention. There’s nothing original here, but that was certainly not the intention of the group. They wanted to play jazz-rock and they do that quite well. Might this be the return of a long dead scene?

If my reviews of the past few weeks are any indication then it would appear that 70s’ progressive jazz fusion is making something of a quiet comeback. My latest review for the CD “Sessions” from the Cleveland based jazz fusion unit RARE BLEND was reminiscent of the early albums by the group BRAND X – back when Phil Collins was pounding the skins - and now with this new album “Kilimanjaro Secret Brew” by 3rd WORLD ELECTRIC we have a group re-visiting the type of sax dominated fusion created by German multi-instrumentalist Klaus Doldinger and his incredible 70s’ jazz ensemble PASSPORT.
3rd WORLD ELECTRIC is another of the many side projects by FLOWER KINGS guitarist Roine Stolt and bassist Jonas Reingold. But unlike other progressive rock side projects such as TRANSATLANTIC, KARMAKANIC, TANGENT, AGENTS OF MERCY, and CIRCUS BRIMSTONE this time Stolt and Reingold have opted to explore what they consider the unfashionable label of “fusion”, with an homage to masters of the genre such as WEATHER REPORT, RETURN TO FOREVER, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, HERBOE HANDCOCK AND THE HEADHUNTERS, BILLY COBHAM and GEORGE DUKE.
Ironically the mirror image of 3rd WORLD ELECTRIC is PASSPORT, a once popular German fusion group they neglect to mention in their press release. And as a rabid aficionado of that group I can tell you “Kilimanjaro Secret Brew” has more in common with the early PASSPORT albums “Cross-Collateral”, “Second Passport”, “Looking Thru”, “Hand Made”, and “Infinity Machine” than anything you’ll hear on a MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA recording.
That said, I can think of no greater compliment then to suggest “Kilimanjaro Secret Brew” is comparable to the great work of Doldinger’s PASSPORT during the most creative period of their career.
“Kilimanjaro Secret Brew” does not break new ground nor do the members try to re-invent the genre, they simply re-create the kind of kinetic raw energy that made those early 70s’ recording so appealing … excellent compositions, melodic sax leads without those annoying squonking squeals, intricate synth and guitar interplay, and a toe-tapping groove sure to put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.
To pull this off Stolt and Reingold assembled a talented international cast of players including: Karl Martin Almqvist (Tenor and Soprano saxophone), Lalle Larsson (piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and synthesizers), Zoltan Csorz (drums), Dave Weckl (drums), and Ayi Solomon (congas & percussion). Together with Roine Stolt (guitars, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Clavinet, MiniMoog), and Jonas Reingold (bass and additional synth) they make up the members of the astounding jazz fusion group 3rd WORLD ELECTRIC.
I highly recommended “Kilimanjaro Secret Brew” for fans of energetic jazz fusion.

If you're already familiar with the member of this project then you'll already be aware of their song-writing and musicianship skills. If you're not, then basically it;'s the crème de la crème of Sweden's rather healthy prog-rock scene, and featured past and present members of the Flower Kings, Karmakanic and others.

But when they decided to get together and write a 70s era fusion record you would have thought they might have bitten off more than they can chew. Not so! This is a gem of an album. presenting music firmly in the style of Weather Report, they go beat the original masters at their own game. The songs, the tunes, and the playing is of an incredibly high quality. And the sound is real authentic. Whilst it boasts a crystal clear modern production, 3rd World Electric create all the Nostalgia of classic era Weather Report of Zawinul Syndicate. And the music is far more interesting and urgent that a lot of material by their fore-fathers which kind of just meanders to nowhere.

The choices of keyboard sounds are especially impressive. Lalle Larson's playing is already known to me, and he's a formidable player. But his excellent choice of sounds show someone who has an incredibly intimate knowledge of the workings of this idiom. Jonas Reingold's fretless bass also helps to create (or re-create) that distinctive sound we all associate with you-know-who, and he has chops to match. Roine Stolt's guitar mainly takes a supporting role her, with only a few, tasteful solos. The playing is bang-on, and once again the sound/production is gorgeous. I'm not familiar with the sax player, but he also shines. And with the powerhouse that is Zoltan Csorzs on drums, and even a guest appearance by Dave Weckly on one track, what more can you ask for?

This album could in many ways be seen as a tribute to Weather Report. Whilst some may say it lacks originality, when the songs are this good, and surpass those they're paying tribute to, who can complain! This is amazing jazz fusion, and they out-do most full-time fusion players with this great little record, a mere side-project to their other wonderful bands!

Like the other reviewer said, If you know the musicians involved it had to be good. I just recently downloaded a copy of Heavy Weather by Weather Report since I hadn't played my album for years and was really enjoying it. So when I read in an interview that Roine, Jonas, Zoltan and Lalle had produced a Weather Report style album and that Dave Wekl had played on it as well I had to have it. Well I haven't been the slightest bit disappointed. It's fantastic! There were favorites the first time through and others have grown on me so much it's hard to decide which one to share with friends first! Roine is one of my favorite humans ever. He is not featured as much as I would prefer, though the solos on the title cut and Tin Can Robots alone are worth the price of admission. Jonas Reingold is one of the best bassists ever and to hear him featured prominently in this style is a real blast! Lalle Larson, who captures Zowinal's style perfectly but never gets too "way out there" is now one of my favorite jazz keyboardists. Almqvist is outstanding on all the different saxophones, style, sound, solos, excellent. With Zoltan, Dave and Ayi holding down the variety of funky beats what can I say. If you like Weather Report or jazz fusion at it's best just GET IT! You'll be so glad you did.

Courtesy original uploader.

Tracks Listing

1. Waterfront Migration (7:50)
2. Ode to Joe (4:59)
3. Capetown Traffic (5:38)
4. Downbeat Dakar (6:16)
5. The Lava Juggler (5:30)
6. Kilimanjaro Secret Brew (7:02)
7. Tin Can Robots (6:04)
8. Children of the Future (9:02)

Line-up / Musicians

.Roine Stolt - Guitars, Rhodes, Minimoog, Clavinet, Percussion
.Jonas Reingold - Fender & Warmoth Basses, Additional Synth
.Lalle Larsson - Piano, Rhodes & Synth
.Karl-Martin Almqvist - Tenor & Soprano Saxophones
.Dave Weckl - Drums
.Zoltan Czörsz - Drums
.Ayi Solomon - Congas, Shakers & Percussion