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Dance of the Infidel


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Audio CD, June 21, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

'Spirit Music Jamia' is an all-star ensemble led by Me'shell (who co-wrote most of the material) playing bass in the mode of Miles Davis' great Seventies jazz-fusion bands. 'Dance Of The Infidel' features brilliant musicianship to please jazz fans and yet via its groove-oriented approach and evocative mood is highly accessible. Featured artists on 'Dance Of The Infidel' include Cassandra Wilson, Lalah Hathaway, Sabina of The Brazilian Girls, Jack DeJohnette (a Miles Davis alum), Kenny Garrett, Don Byron, Ron Blake, and many more. Shanachie. 2005.

Amazon.com

Longtime fans of Meshell Ndegeocello are certainly aware she can’t be pinned down. The truth is, like Prince, Meshell is too brilliant a musician to stay in one place for too long. On Dance of the Infidel Meshell acts more like a ringleader than a performer. Instead of singing, Meshell directs her energy towards writing, assembling a stunning collection of talent, playing bass and producing the project. Surprisingly, her voice is never actually heard. Some of the music is very beautiful, languid and accessible to all; jazzy enough to attract fans of fusion, yet consistently melodic enough to satisfy lovers of her trademark neo-soul. The three vocal numbers are achingly gorgeous. from "Aquarium," with lush, downtempo vocals of Brazillian Girls contributor Sabina, to the seductive sounds of Cassandra Wilson fronting "The Chosen," to the disc’s bluesy closer "When Did You Leave Heaven" by Lalah Hathaway. As for the players, there is a truly incredible, rotating lineup. The Spirit Music Jamia, as they are called, includes Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Garrett, Oran Coltrane (son of John) on horn and many more. The first 17 minutes ("Mu-Min" and "Al-Falaq 113") shows just how serious a jazz CD this is . Those two tracks are not Norah Jones -type light jazz, but more of a Miles Davis Bitches Brew vibe. In fact, even the vocal-fronted tracks have significant instrumental jazz input, so there really isn’t a single ‘pop’ song, per se, on this disc. The music is unquestionably wonderful. Fans of Ndegeocello should know, however, that it is a different kind of wonderful. --Denise Sheppard

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Mu-Min featuring Oliver Lake, Don Bryon & Joshua Roseman 1:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Al-Falaq 113 featuring Mino Cinelu, Gene Lake, Michael Cain & Wallace Roney11:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Aquarium featuring Sabina & Ron Blake 4:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Papillon featuring Matthew Garrison, Federico Gonzalez Pena & Kenny Garrett11:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Dance of the Infidel featuring Oran Coltrane, Kenny Garrett & Chris Dave 7:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. The Chosen featuring Cassandra Wilson, Brandon Ross & Michael Cain 6:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Luqman featuring Jack De Johnette, Oliver Lake, Don Byron & Gregoire Maret11:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Heaven featuring Lalah Hathaway, Neal Evans & Chris Dave 6:07$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 21, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2005
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Shanachie
  • ASIN: B0009JPVXS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,477 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Michael Crowley on July 11, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I like this CD a lot, but I can understand why Meshell's record company didn't know what to do with it, and why some of her fans don't like it. This is nothing like any other recording with her name on it. What it is is a great example of contemporary, straight-ahead jazz, with just a little bit of avant-garde flava.

There is definitely an In a Silent Way/Bitches Brew feel to some of the CD, what with the extended jams by large ensembles on tunes like Al-Falaq 113 and Luqman, but this is pure jazz, not jazz rock or jazz funk-soulful and modern, but not fusion. While there's electric bass throughout, electric guitar on one cut and electric keyboards and subtle atmospheric electronics on others, the instrumentation is predominantly acoustic-sax, trumpet, clarinet, piano, drums, harmonica, and voice. The last song, the standard When Did You Leave Heaven, sung by Lalah Hathaway, has such a traditional arrangement it could have been recorded any time in the last fifty years.

I have to admit that without her name on it I wouldn't have known Meshell had anything to do with this CD, but now that I know I hear her influence in the sultry, stony vibe some of the tunes have, like Aquarium (lots of spacey electronics on that one, with a beautiful vocal by someone named Sabina-I heard it as an anti-purdah song, but maybe it's just about a suffocating love affair); the title track, which is probably the most overtly "soulful" of the tracks on the CD; and especially the incredibly sexy song Cassandra Wilson sings, The Chosen, which incorporates lines from The Song of Solomon and ends with her purring "Come bare your soul to me...Come bare your soul to me...come....come....come....
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By JL on June 23, 2005
Format: Audio CD
i cannot say enough in praise of this landmark instant classick. with this release, MeShell has cemented her place in the J-Lexicon. what she has done with this stunningly, simmeringly beautiful and expansive jazzscape is the hardest thing to do in music: create something with universal, popular and instant accessibility while mining spiritual and heartfelt depth from The Muse.
"Spiritual Groove" indeed. this is SPIRITUAL music. do you know how hard that is to do and make and sell and make popular in these ever-corporate, ever-marginalized, ever-attention-diminishing-i-Times? this record is on a direct line from Coltrane's Love Supreme and Miles's slow-burning fusion albums. it is that good, that inspired, that necessary.

Cohesive and cogent, pungent and potent, truly and fully composed jazz statements of a hip-pastoral nature. expansive but tight organic grooves provide foundation for improv and soloing that is taste and freedom but never goes too out, always revolving around strong and compelling themes. this is not an experimental thing, its an in thing and a cool thing. Slow-burning and structured, orchestrated around the idea of freedom. like Sufis in slow-motion. Gracefully hypnotic.

3 12-minute quiet groove suites interspersed with 3 cool r+bish vocal songs, all exquisite, the 7.5 minute jewel of a title track and the timetraveling intro. there is little of the upfront bootyshakin funk bass thOmp she has done plently of in the past (for a sick-ass, if muted, example hear track 7: Luqman) this is another album, a wider and higher intent, and a bigger picture. ("influenced by life, Miles Davis, Kool Herc, Carl Sagan and holy scripture") this work invites everyone to come and traverse its pleasures and the sophisticated sweetness of its truths.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Derek on January 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Meshell's "Spirit Music Jamia: Dance of the Infidel" album has been nominated for a Grammy in the Contemporary Jazz category...

it deserves it.

I won't give a extremely detailed review here since many before have already spoken about the beauty of this record...suffice to say i agree with most of em.

Its a gem...if you're open to it, its a straight up gem...

mostly instrumental jazz with some stellar musicians, along with a handful of wonderful vocal tracks with some equally stellar vocalists.

Where i will respectfully disagree with few reviewers is that this didn't initially sound to them like a "Meshell" record. To me, from day one, it ALWAYS sounded like Meshell record even without her trademark vocals. Of course, since the first time of hearing Meshells music back in 1993 i've always been attracted to Meshell the 'Musician/Composer' first, Meshell the 'Vocalist' second...and i actually listen to ALL of her records - including the vocal albums- with that 'musician/composer' bias in place (i tend to focus first on the bass melodies & the musical instrument interactions & compositions and then on the vocals)...

So i guess thats why, for me Dance of The Infidel IS a VERY 'Meshell' record..in spite of the omission of her wonderful voice.

And don't get me wrong now...i LOVE her vocals. In fact her voice, vocal phrasing, tone & style is one of the most expressive there is out there in my opinion. (She and Peter Gabriel both have an ability to emmit emotion in very unique, powerful and pure way). And I do hope she doesn't abandon her voice ALTOGETHER on future recordings. My hope is that future recordings blend the best of both of her worlds...some instrumental Meshell jams AND some vocal Meshell jams.
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