Caribbean Roots

10/06/2016Anthony Joseph Embarks On An Afrofuturistic Journey Of His Calypso Heritage

"Call me 'Neckbone', I'm a man, and this is how one day, I burned down tha brewery..." – Anthony Joseph "Neckbone"

In the modern day Northern Hemisphere the Caribbean is often associated with luxury cruises, leisurely island hopping and the occasional painting by Paul Gauguin. Others however, may feel reminded of a harsh colonial past, a vibrant yet scattered diaspora and a rich cultural heritage stretching from San Fernando/Scarborough, Kingston and Les Abymes to Port-au-Prince and Havana.

Anthony Joseph, the multitalented poet, novelist, musician and lecturer, described as "the leader of the Black avant-garde in Britain", is currently on a musical mission to retrace his own "Caribbean Roots". June 24th marks the release of his eagerly awaited, eponymous new album on Strut/Heavenly Sweetness, an equally fertile body of work, that sees and hears Joseph strive to unite these individual island entities without diluting any individual strand:

"The idea, heard so often," says Anthony Joseph, "is that the Caribbean is a fragmented region, socially, politically, historically. In my view, it’s a unified space, with more relations than disparities. The album is asking Caribbean people to consider that their roots are in the Caribbean, that their generations run deep and that now, we can claim it as ancestral space." 

His husky baritone leaves little room for doubt that he is indeed 'the man' for the job. Joseph after all is a mesmerising, natural born storyteller, skilfully blending music and speech as his proverbial weapons of choice.  

On "Caribbean Roots" his powerful, surreal tales are brought to life before a backdrop of jazz-tinged rhythms, sounds and vibes, performed by an all-star supporting cast, including the outstanding percussionist Roger Raspail (Cesaria Evora, Papa Wemba), saxophonists Shabaka Hutchings (The Comet Is Coming) and Jason Yarde (Jazz Jamaica All Stars), trumpeter Yvon Guillard (Magma), bassist Mike Clinton (Salif Keita), trombonist Pierre Chabrèle (Creole Jazz Orchestra), Patrick Marie-Magdelene (Manu Dibango), celebrated Trinidad calypso icon David Rudder and Andy Narrell, master of the steel pans.

Expect a combination of effervescent voodoo funk, freejazz saxophone diversions, throbbing riffs, hypnotic basslines and emphatic brass interjections, rooted in traditional tumbélé and mendé music as well as rapso and soca beats. And don't forget to listen to the catchy single "Neckbone" in the player above. 

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom