Paa Kow: Cookpot

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This Cookpot is a boiling and bubbling cauldron of African hi-life and every other kind of rhythmic style from Paa Kow, the energetic and ingenious musician and drummer from the fabled land of Guy Warren. The rhythmist who plays both bass and drums, and sings in his high-flying falsetto conjures music that is visceral and a moving feast of homegrown music and heavily inflected with jazzy improvisations that is set on a collision course with a myriad of other styles of music in the popular realm.

The rippling funky groove that is stated in the almost anthem-like opener “The Way I Feel” is proudly announced by vociferous horns and a guitar and organ vamp combined with rock-style echoes in the ensemble and the soli and immediately sets the tone for the entire album. Meanwhile “Cookpot” has a rippling jazz groove that builds with a funk underbelly under the vigorous hand of Paa Kow, which is how much of the album turns out, often mixing Earth, Wind and Fire grooves with percussive tumbling detail.

Throughout the music of Cookpot the band injects loose and funky gestures and phrases. By way of contrast Paa Kow swings into the final track which is an African rendition of a reflective Gospel song “Praise The Lord”. Throughout Paa Kow also leads right from the front and while there is a heavy “African-ness’ in the music there are surprises that come when you least expect them. A delicate curlicue of a bass line that underpins what sounds like swinging Jazz big band album where close-knit ensemble passages develop from single phrases. The recorded sound balances detail and warmth and, of course, introduces a fascinating new musician to the world.

Track list – 1: The Way I Feel; 2: Meetu Ehum; 3: Forced Landing; 4: Cookpot; 5: Lonely; 6: Details; 7: I Made a Mistake; 8: Pete Pete; 9: African Lady; 10: How Sweet; 11: Sacrifice; 12: Go With It; 13: Praise the Lord

Personnel – Paa Kow: drum set (2 – 13), traditional Ghanian drum set (1), congas (1, 4, 8. 10, 12), bass (2, 4, 7, 12), bells (3 – 5, 8, 11, 13), dundunga (7), Erin (9), shaker (11), Farfisa (2, 3) and vocals (1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13); Tom Ogunribido: bass (1, 3, 5, 8 – 11, 13) and backing vocals (2, 8, , 11, 13); Jonnie Cohen: guitar (1 – 5, 7 – 12); George K. Abban Jr. : guitar (3, 5, 9, 13); Dave Corbus: guitar (solo 11); Solomon Goldbas: mini-Moog (1 – 3, 7, 9, 11), Fender Rhodes (11 – 3, 7, 9, 10, 11), Wurlitzer (4, 8), organ (5), clavinet (9) and piano (12); Jeff Jenkins: organ (3, 10); Carl Amoah Papa Yaw: Fender Rhodes (5, 9, 13); Steve Vidaic: Farfisa (5); Peyton Shuffield congas (1, 5, 7, 11) and triangle (3); Mike Schwebke: steel pan (4, 9); Modou Nii Amoo: tama talking drum (3, 12); Madou Sarr Mbengue: tama (5, 9, 12); Victor Nii Amoo: congas (9); Ato Donald Ninson: backing vocals (5); Joel Michael Timm: trombone (1 – 5, 7 – 10, 11, 12); Brad Goode: 1st , 3rd trumpet (2 – 4, 7 solos 3, 4); Noah Fulton-Beale: 2nd 4th trumpet (1 – 5, 7 – 13); Mike Dunn: tuba (1, 2, 4, 7, 12); John Gunther: tenor saxophone (3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 13), alto and baritone saxophones (4, 7, 13); Daryl Gott: alto saxophone; Tom Hagerman: violin 1 (2, 12); Takanori Sugishita: violin 2 (2, 12); Mackenzie Gault: viola (2, 12); Eyan Orman: cello (2, 12)

Released – 2018
Label – Independent
Runtime – 56:11

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