Zero - Spirit
heart of Africa is to find in South Africa, if one understands it in a
musical especially jazzy sense. Inspired by the collection album
Smooth Africa, released by the Heads Up label, I already reviewed
albums of Sipho
Mhlanga, Ernie Smith
and Wessel. Another album of Paul
Hanmer was edited by Chris Mann. If you want to explore South
African jazz, I recommend the labels Sheer
Sound and Mountain Records.
I know there is a lot more jazz in Africa, but everyone has to start
from a scratch. Why not starting from the South?
The band Absolute
Zero is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Founded three
years ago by Angelo Angelos (piano, vocals) and Mervin Naidoo (bass)
Absolute Zero celebrated their debut album in 2000. A true confession
to Smooth Jazz. Their music has all incredients of this genre. But you
will not hear any drum programmed or studio-synthetic sound. My first
impression is that of a live album.
The first track Picasso
has a hooking theme, which is often repeated by different instruments
like keyboard and sax. The tune is very structurall. Although Stephen
Berliner's guitar play is variable and impressive. I like Barry van
Zyl's drum breaks.
Some South African rhythm
is to recognized in Mervin Naidoo's
bass play on Bree Street.
Brendan Ross brings smooth alto and soprano sax elements. A cultural
mix of Africa and America.
Speaking about a gripping
melody, Walking With The Night
comes immediately in mind. Angelo Angelos'
wonderful interpretation on piano is skillfully accompanied by Brendan Ross
heartful sax play. Stephen
Berliner's distortion guitar sound prevents us from schmaltzy
Absolute Zero's skill in
melody writing is audible on Isithupha.
A fusion jazz styled piece with a swaying groove supported by drums,
bass and rhythm guitar.
Don't await a recitation of
tenors on Four Tenors.
This piece features Brendan Ross
on flute and of course Angelo Angelos' piano play in perfect harmony.
Enjoy the genuine sound of acoustic instruments.
is an usual title for the next tune. The negative sense of this title
doesn't mirror in Absolute Zero's performance.
the homestead of Brazil's carnival and Absolute Zero catchs the spirit
of Latin jazz. Bossa rhythm and a distortion guitar inspired by Carlos
Santana creates a vivid Latin mood.
presents Constance Foster's natural vocals. The listener would like to
get more information about this female singer, who deserves an own
place on Absolute Zero's
LMJN (little mellow jazz
number) is a lyrical piano
piece with a smooth flute accompaniment. Pronounced is the rhythm
factor with drums and percussion.
a slow tempo piece, Brendan Ross
plays a sax solo, then the tune accelerate to Angelo Angelos'
piano solo with rockish speed.
Mervin Naidoo's bass
introduces into 7th Heaven.
A piece with much improvisations and tempo changes. Some swing, very
jazzy in general.
When you miss the South
African mood, you will satisfied with Township.
That's the spirit of South Africa in a jazzy frame.
The second vocal tune Spirit
Constance Foster's warm
voice intimately attended by Stephen
Berliner's acoustic guitar. Very atmospheric.
Smooth Jazz fans who like
to listen to some unadulterated music far beyond the radiolike style,
should buy this album at http://www.oneworld.co.za/.