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Full reviews of Tekezze

MOJO May 2001.
Review by Chris Ingham
Fourth album for effervescent, London-based jazz/world beat seven piece.
These guys cast their net pretty wide. Ostensibly a conventional line-up of four rhythm and three horns, they import infectious grooves from South India and Senegal, instrumental features, instrumental textures from Jamaica and Spain and inspiration from everywhere between Cape Town and Bodmin Moor, then infuse it all with a celebratory spirit of life-affirming optimism. That might run the risk of being new world/new age tat (indeed there is a chanting vocal ensemble on the excellent Magic of Life that sounds suspiciously like Jon Anderson) if the writing and ensemble playing weren't so rigorous and well drilled, and their range of mood and dynamic any less colourful. Naturally good at unbridled joy (Viva, The Webb of Love), there are also claustrophobic slabs of funk (Sublimi-naal) and an affecting plea for peace inspired by the saxophonist's sojourn amid the Ethiopia/Eritrea war (Tales of Tekezze). Scintillating live, this is the best studio offering thus far by a unique band.

The Independent 27 January
Review by Tim Perry
This lively bunch of English sessioneers really mix it up on this, their fourth album, which is truly deserving of the tag worldbeat. An incredibly diverse package, it bounces round all four corners of the globe - often on the same song. Admittedly, it's possible to hear the joins in places, but in a cute way that adds to the joy of this sonic pinball.***

Songlines Spring/Summer 2001
Review by Nigel Williamson.
"Zubop were formed in London in the mid-80s, inspired by both Dudu Pukwana and the Blue Notes/Zila collective of South African musicians living in exile in Britain at the time. Since then they have expanded their musical palette to take in a vast array of global influences on offer on their fourth album, Tekezze.
"The Webb of Love" has an East European klezmer flavour driven by Jon Petter's clarinet, but which is intriguingly underpinned by a ska beat. "Petit Kandé", written by trumpeter Will Embliss, deploys infectious West African rhythms courtesy of the Gambian djembe player Njega. "Tales of Tekezze" was written after Petter spent a year living on the banks of the river Tekezze.
"Cape Town 8001", meanwhile, composed by South African-born keyboardist Philip Clouts, returns to their original influences with a swinging township groove and a piano solo influenced by Abdullah Ibrahim. "Viva" combines soca and flamenco melodies, "Percy Bites" fuses reggae, folk and dance, and "Captain Scarlet's Blues" is another South African-styled jive excursion which marries the stinging rock guitar of new member John Blackwell to the blazing horns of Embliss, Petter and Ricky Edwards.
You could argue that Zubop throw too much into their roots stew, but it's tasty all the same."

Jazzwise April 2001
Review by Peter Quinn
Zubop Tekezze 33Records 33Jazz060
The seven-piece Zubop don't like to be categorised - just as well because the task would be nigh-on impossible. The defining band credo appears to be an unashamed polystylism - on this album alone you will hear the influence of Eastern European, Senegalese, South Indian, South African and English folk musics, not to mention salsa and reggae. Phew! What some of the tracks lack in the sense of a clear formal shape, they make up for in the sheer exuberance and enjoyment of the playing. Their compositional approach is perhaps best exemplified on "Viva" which opens with a typical montuno on the saxes, cuts to what sounds like a pastiche of the Grieg Piano Concerto (juxtaposed with circus-like drum rolls and cymbal crashes), before returning to the latin jazz feel of the opening for the full band, Great fun and doubtless a big draw on the live circuit.

The List 15 Feb-1Mar 2001
Review by Kenny Mathieson
Zubop - Tekezze - (33JAZZ) ****
More exuberant , melodic, rhythmically charged music from Zubop, the London-based septet who specialise in throwing strict genre categories out of the window. Instead, the band goes for a world-jazz stew, which is inclusive rather than prescriptive, and allows the spirit to go where the groove takes it. Tekezze is their fourth CD, and generates the same kind of energised, multicultural overlaps and head-on collisions which are familiar from their earlier work, bursting into great surges of African hi-life, reggae, a deep Latin groove ("Percy Bites" recalls Santana for a while) and lots, lots more. An hour's worth of great fun, fine playing, and some heart-in-the-right-place philosophising (although vocals are not their strong point).

The Birmingham Post 10/2/2001
Jazz/World Reviews, by Peter Bacon
From the opening accordion wheeze, through the Jamaica meets Eastern European beats, to the jazzy horn riffs and the African influenced breathy flute it's clear that this is a multicultural outfit at its most eclectic - and that's just the first two minutes of the album.
The North London based Zubop, who have been known to visit stages both in Warwickshire village halls and at The Fiddle and Bone in Birmingham, have grown in numbers and musical stature since the last album , with guitar added to the lineup, and even more multi-instrumentalism from the hard core.
The recording quality is miles better too.
There's still a good-time feel, but the world music influences are much more comprehensively mixed into a cohesive singularly Zuboppy style now.

Revolutions UK - www.revolutionsuk.com
Review by David May
Zubop - Tekezze - 33 Records (33JAZZ060)
Imagine that colours could represent different styles of music; then throw those colours into the air and wait for a cyclone to mix them - no palette would be big enough, after all. The resultant, exultant smorgasbord of hues, an exotic marketplace for the senses, would probably sound like Zubop. The band members are English, American and South African but the musical sensibilities they bring with them are truly global. On this, their 4th album, youíll find (amongst many others) Arabic, Celtic, Brazilian, Indian, East, West and South African influences amidst the jazz, roots, pop, reggae and more. Now such diversity of sources on its own is not a recommendation; without the talent to execute such a complex fusion it would simply sound ghastly. (Even a simple crossover can come a cropper without such talent: anyone for Boyzone singing Tracy Chapman's Baby, Can I Hold You?) Thankfully, blissfully even, Zubop have that talent in spades. From the very start of the opening number, the wild, East European swirl of The Webb Of Love, youíll want to be on your feet dancing to the delirium of Ricky Edwards's sax and Philip Clouts's accordion, both underpinned by an unstoppable Duncan Noble bass line. Magic Of Life is a slow builder, a celebration of the senses and all that we can detect about us if only we are awake to it. We are urged to 'celebrate' - too right! Petit Kandé takes us to West Africa with its glorious heritage of pulsating percussion - Senegalese balofonist Keba Mané name-checked here for his help and influence - while Tales Of Tekezze takes us across the continent to the long-suffering Tigray region of Ethiopia. This plea for peace is a rare case of a Zubop number with a lead vocal, most being instrumentals during which voices suddenly appear to share in the fun. Sublimi-naal is a delicious slice of slinky, sensual urban jazz and a specific city takes a starring role later on the album. Capetown 8001 (the postcode of Philip Clouts's birthplace) was quite possibly influenced by the work of Abdullah Ibrahim and that it captures the feel of that genius's work is no small compliment. Viva is breathlessly upbeat, as you'd expect from such a title, and as for the reggae-tinged Percy Bites: he sure does. To close the album the band focus on an indestructible hero of screen - no, not Arnie; this guy's got far more facially expressive. Captain Scarlet's Blues - funky, affectionate, soulful, seriously rocking and, unlike the Captain himself or Stuart Wheeler's five million quid to the Tories, with no strings attached. This album is, like the classic Steppenwolf song, a Magic Carpet Ride, so get your ticket and hang on tight!

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