OLU DARA: IN THE WORLD - FROM NATCHEZ TO NEW YORK CD
Review by Gary S. Mattingly
Rain Shower is a blues song but it sounds jazzier to me than a straight ahead
blues song despite what Ntozake says. It's good. Maybe it's sort of a walking blues
song. The cornet sounds good in this song but I really think it adds a jazz element
that pulls it a little bit aways from the blues. This is not bad though.
Well I got another strange result as to category when I checked on
CDDB. This time it said "blues". Well I'd personally place it in jazz. However it
definitely had some songs that were blues. Some songs were reminiscent of high life or soca.
Some stuff was current urban. However the whole thing was great. Cool is sort of overused
and trite but this is cool, but definitely not overused and trite. Everything works great.
Things fit together. It is smooth. Speaking of smooth, if you buy this CD be sure and read
the liner notes by Ntozake Shange. They are great too. I'll have to see what else this
person has written.
Okra starts it off. If you're familiar with soca or high life, you might
say you could place this song close to that type of music. For some reason or another
this brought to mind Cocoanut Woman by Harry Belafonte. It really doesn't sound
the same but it is about going through a village, selling things, etc. I must go listen
to some high life. Does it have cornet?
Now the sound of Natchez Shopping Blues is definitely like a blues song.
It sounds like older blues, sparse, a guitar, vocals, that's it. However I don't
understand "I bought my eyes from Brooklyn on Herkimer Street" (see the following)
"I bought my mind and soul on the river
I bought my heart in Nashville Tennesee
I bought my legs on the ocean, about Newport
I bought my arms on the Seven Seas
I bought my eyes in Brooklyn on Herkimer Street"
Okay, metaphors, a vision, I must think about this more.
The rhythm speeds up a bit on Your Lips which is a really good song.
Love and great images, particularly
Your lips are juicy"
and "Your lips are Louisiana plums." . . . "They glow at night." My goodness, such
a steamy scene. Good beat to the whole thing.
Starting out with some really enjoyable cornet work by Olu Dara Harlem Country Girl
slows things down again. I would definitely place this back in the jazz area. However it
makes me think a little bit of some pieces by Taj Mahal, which have a blues element but could
easily be seen as having jazz elements also. On top of it all is
some very pleasant guitar work. Hey, the lyrics are good too.
Okay, Zora I'd say would be blues. Ntozake says, I believe, that this song
relates to Zora Neale Hurston. Young Mama is another slower, walking pace
song. A number of these songs tell stories, about life, about stress, about love, well
Bubber (If Only) initially brings to mind songs from The Cotton Club. Don't
ask me why. I'm still thinking about it. Then you hear Mayanna Lee singing/saying
the lyrics. Very nice voice. Slow, silky. Then comes
another song reminiscent of older blues, Father Blues. Good stuff.
Nas, Olu Dara's son, appears for a guest vocal appearance on Jungle Jay. I wouldn't call
this rap. I might call it poetry. I would definitely call it another story.
I would definitely say it evokes images, not really ones that I'm familiar with though.
The CD finishes with Kiane, trying to have a young child go to sleep. Overall
this is a very pleasant and quiet CD. I think I would give it a 6.8
on a scale of 10. It is definitely not raucous but it might be good for driving home
after a particularly bad day at work.
I don't see any web site specifically for Olu Dara.
There is an interesting review format near the bottom of the page at the
Cyber Fusion, home of Jazz Fusion,
unfortunately the body of the review is in Japanese and it would take me forever to
Another review can be found at the Charleston
Daily Mail site. However the reviewer calls the liner notes pretentious. Well. . . . I suppose
you could go there with them.
There is some information to be found at the
Atlantic Record site but I don't know if it's worth it to get there. They set more
cookies than the cookie monster has.
This review was updated on June 2, 1998.