First thing’s first. London’s Sean Khan opens his new album with a track called “Moment of Collapse,” featuring a drop dead vocal by Cinematic Orchestra’s Heidi Vogel. It is the best new jazz track released this year. If your local jazz music station doesn’t have this on heavy rotation starting today, change the channel.
Vogel is already a rock star. Palmares Fantasy might make Khan one too. This is one more in an increasingly long line of great new jazz discs we’ve been treated to in recent years. Khan’s third release on Far Out Recordings puts him in the same conversation as Kamasi Washington, Yussef Kamaal and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah.
Khan travelled to Rio de Janeiro to record with the great Hermeto Pascoal. The man Miles Davis once called “the most impressive musician in the world,” joins in on five of the album’s nine tracks.
Hermeto shines brightest on the album’s title track. Improvised vocals, Rhodes piano and whistles match Khan’s saxophone and flute note for note. The two were born to play together.
That title is of historic significance. Quilombo dos Palmares was home to a multicultural mix of escaped slaves and others in what is now the Brazilian state of Alagoas. Historical estimates of its population range from 11,000 to 20,000. For much of the 17th century, this remarkable community governed itself democratically and fended off no less than six separate Portuguese expeditions of would-be conquerors.
Rounding out the lineup: Ivan ‘Mamao’ Conti on drums, bassist Paulo Russo, guitarist Jim Mullen and guest vocals from Brazil’s Sabrina Malheiros. Vogel sings on two tracks, both of them knockouts.
Do not miss this one.