SOUND ADVICE (BW063)
produced by Airto Moreira
"The idea of the album is a journey through someone's life. It could be at any time. they could come from any culture," Byron Wallen explains the concept behind his debut for MELT. It's a madly eclectic recording, which veers from straight jazz, fusion and Latin to avant garde, hip hop and funk, all blended into a gleaming-but-edgy whole, and focussed by Byron's increasingly distinctive and primal blowing. Mystical voices flow into mist-shrouded skin-pattering, burnished horns scribbling around Afro-vocalising with Wallen also giving the nod to forerunners like Don Cherry and Lester Bowie.
'Rhythms Of Vision' is graced with a beguiling melody line, lyrical without being cliche, and sung beautifully by Marcina Arnold. 'Moonchild' is a good place to sample Wallen's sweet-tuned flugelhorn, riding a light, mid-tempo theme with panache over 70s electric piano. The beautiful 'Let Go (And Embrace)' is punctuated toward its end by an unearthly death rattle - a combination of a half-valve trill and a glissando which sounds like nothing else in modern jazz. Like the man says, "From a playing perspective I'm now doing things that other people don't do. Even though I'm indebted to the greats, I'm starting to hear things my own way."
'Crazy Black' is a vivid portrayal of racism-induced paranoia featuring the abrasive poetry of accompanied by a hectic and dissonant jazz funk backing and some high-pressure vibes courtesy of Orphy Robinson. "It's specific to me as a black person being brought up in this country, but at the same time dealing with things internally," explains Byron. "I was brought up by my aunt, who's white. I'd be walking down the street with her and people would be looking at us and thinking, 'What's this?' I was at that age where I didn't want to stick out. So quite early I was dealing with the issue of who I was and feeling like I wasn't anywhere.' 'Ngoba' - 'why' - was partially recorded during the Outernational Meltdown expedition to South Africa and features Airto Moreira and various native musicians on percussion and vocals. "The idea is, why go thirsty when you live by the sea? Everything is here and its simple but, because we don't allow ourselves to see it, we go thirsty. This relates to South Africa as well, and the lost generation there. The people have so much love. When you think about what they've been through... yet the black community still say they want to live together with the white. Amazing."
Featuring an hallucinogenic rap from Byron and the weird insertion of the theme from Sesame Street, 'The Street' probes beyond George Clinton's wobbly mind frame into unsettling realms of paranoia.
'An ambitious and formidably skillful debut.' John Fordham, The Guardian
'Madly eclectic' The Independent
'Just what the doctor ordered.' Blues & Soul
'Bop-to-rap spectrum spanned by versatile trumpeter.' The Evening Standard
'A superb and challenging listen from start to finish... Make no mistake:- Byron Wallen is a man of taste and his first foray proper has a great many flavours to savour.' Gary Mulholland, Echoes, 22.4.95
'A confident and eclectic record, produced by percussion legend Airto Moreira and informed by his folky spirituality, without succumbing to the rareified or pretentious.' Linton Chiswick, Time Out, 25.4.95
'This is way beyond the shaky promise of Byron's early singles and so it proves he's one to watch after all.' Martin Langley, Q.
Byron Wallen Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Richard Ajileye Percussion
Gary Crosby Bass
José Neto Guitar
Marcina Arnold Vocals
Lemn Sissay 'Crazy Black' poetry
Airto Moreira Production, inspiration
Orphy Robinson Vibes
Ed Jones Sax
Track Listing (30 Second Samples)
1. TIME AND SPACE (1:45)
2. RYTHM OF VISION (6:02)
3. MOONCHILD (6:47)
4. CRAZY BLACK (6:54)
5. NGOBA (5:11)
6. PARADOX (5:39)
7. LET GO (AND EMBRACE) (6:58)
8. THE STREET (5:45)
9. STAY OPEN (1:30)
10. SUNDAY CALLING (4:00)
11. TIME AND SPACE (3:29)