Sculptural Paintings (a sequel to the 'Castaways')

See examples in Gallery

A series of environmental 'Sculptural Paintings' produced in-situ in West Africa in 2007-2008.

A bronze work by the same name produced in Italy in 2008

Inspiration for the 'Accra Trane Station' jazz ensemble (, two jazz improvisations by the same name 'Topographies of the Dark' released on the c.d. ' Another Blue Train '. Click to listen: Musical compositions

Press Sheet for VoxLox New Release, January 2008


Recorded in Santa Fe, New Mexico on the occasion of Accra Trane Station?s first visit

from Ghana to the U.S., Topographies of the Dark is a musical exploration in dialogue

with sculptural paintings made in Accra by visual artist Virginia Ryan. Her textured

assemblages in overlaying densities of black are featured in the accompanying booklet.

Ryan?s Topographies of the Dark paintings are created from recycled flip-flops that

washed up on Accra?s beaches. Like the water rolling in and out along the Black Atlantic

coast, these once-worn shoes embody histories of movement and passage, crossings close

and far. The Topographies of the Dark CD similarly tells tales of musical crossings that

connect Africa, Europe, and America in the diasporic grooves of jazz improvisation.

Accra Trane Station is Nii Noi Nortey and Nii Otoo Annan. Nortey is inventor of the

afrifones, African winds with saxophone mouthpieces, and Annan plays the APK, or

African percussion kit, a battery of African bells and drums together with jazz cymbals.

In 2004, musician and anthropologist Steven Feld met Nortey and Annan in Ghana, and

heard their unique take on the African legacy of John Coltrane. Moved by their playing,

Feld returned to Ghana in 2005 and recorded Nortey and Annan?s first CD, Tribute to A

Love Supreme.

At that time Feld took up the study of the West African rhythm box bass and then

returned to Accra in 2006 and 2007 to perform and record with Nortey and Annan. In

2006, they released Meditations for John Coltrane, a tribute to the 40th anniversary of

Coltrane?s Meditations. In 2007, they released Another Blue Train, marking the 50th

anniversary of Ghana?s independence and Coltrane?s Blue Train.

When Accra Trane Station came to his home in New Mexico in August 2007, Feld

proposed a recording collaboration with two of his oldest musical associates, Alex Coke

and Jefferson Voorhees. Topographies of the Dark is the record of this conversation.

Sax and flute improviser Alex Coke, based in Austin and Amsterdam, has performed and

recorded with the Willem Breuker Kollektief, Worthy Constituents, and Creative

Opportunity Orchestra. He and Feld previously played together in Leadbelly Legacy

Band and Live Action Brass Band.

Drummer Jefferson Voorhees studied West African percussion with C.K. Ladzekpo and

became a mainstay in the bay area World Beat movement, playing with numerous

African and Afro-Caribbean bands. He and Feld previously worked together in the Tom

Guralnick Trio, Bonefied, and Out of Context.

Topographies of the Dark, recorded live in single takes with no overdubs, is comprised

of 7 tracks, each featuring unique combinations of Nortey and Coke?s winds punctuated

by Annan?s APK, Voorhees? drums, and Feld?s rhythm box bass, and additionally by

Nortey and Annan?s string and xylophone work.

The Luminous Dark and Suspended Gaze are deeply textural pieces, meditative and out of

fixed meter. On Mood Duke, the haunting mix of Nortey?s afrifone and Coke?s bass flute

in Ghanaian kpele rhythm evokes the West African spiritual and the Mood Indigo of

Duke Ellington. Strings to the Sahel is a desert rock groove combining bowed and

plucked Ghanaian strings with the swirling wind of Coke?s flute. The tone turns hot and

fast on Black Heat, where Nortey?s afrifone and Coke?s soprano work move across the

terrain of avant-garde saxophone styles from Albert Ayler to Ornette Coleman. On

Bridges and Planks, Nortey and Annan both show off their extraordinary multiple in-andout-

of-meter xylophone and marimba skills. The set concludes with Ruffles, a spirited

romp in an Afro-beat percussion groove.

Topographies of the Dark is for sale and download at

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