There’s not another album on the planet that sounds even remotely like vibraphonist Khan Jamal’s eccentric, one-of-a-kind masterpiece, Drum Dance To The Motherland. Thirty years after its release, the album’s tapestry of sound, fearless abstractions, relentless grooves, cool swing, flashes of ecstasy, & pan cultural embrace remain powerful & beyond category. One of only three albums released on the Philadelphia-based Dogtown label, it was barely distributed beyond the city’s limits when it came out in the early ‘70s.
Finally available again, a really stunning document of musical exploration, a classic session. In its improbable fusion of free jazz expressionism, black psychedelia, & full-on dub production techniques, Drum Dance remains a bracingly powerful outsider statement fifty years after it was recorded live at the Catacombs Club in Philadelphia, 1972. Comparisons to Sun Ra, King Tubby, Phil Cohran & BYG/Actuel merely hint at the cosmic otherness conjured by The Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble & by sound engineer Mario Falana's real-time enhancements.
Clearly, the members of the Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble saw African American music as a continuum that stretched from the Motherland through the blues, R&B, jazz, & free jazz, & they prided themselves on mastering the continuum. In the early ‘70s, these were fairly new ideas, but they had taken firm root in Philadelphia. The search for an African American music that is modern & culturally progressive but rooted in an African tradition is the music’s heart & soul. Its connection to the specific African American community in Philadelphia is its immediate inspiration. “My ancestors eventually show up in my music every time i play,” Jamal says. “I’ve always said that my backyard is Africa.”
Originally issued by Jamal in 1973 in an edition of three hundred copies on ‘Dogtown’ records, Drum Dance To The Motherland was effectively a myth until eremite’s 2005 CD reissue (and later in 2017 thei vinyl repress). With the master tapes long vanished, the audio was transferred at Sony Music's 54th street studio from a minty copy of the original LP. Includes an insert with Ed Hazell's detailed telling of Drum Dance's incredible history. Under License From Eremite Records.