QUANTIC AND HIS COMBO BARBARO: Traditon In Transition (Label: Tru Thoughts)

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Quantic is the alter ego of all round good-guy muso Will Holland, who, as leader of the Quantic Soul Orchestra, has sold well over 100,000 records. That fact, coupled with another – that he records for a small(ish) indie label lacking big marketing muscles – speaks volumes for the quality of his music, but for the last couple years there’s been precious little new for the devoted fans to relish. Quantic’s absence, though, is explained with the release of this beguiling, new 12 tracker. For the last two years, you see, Holland’s been living in Cali, the third largest city in Colombia, pursuing his passion for Colombian music and working on ways to bring it to a wider audience. In some ways he’s been doing what Ry Cooder did with the Buena Vista Social Club, but in other ways his modus operandi is totally different… as the album’s title explains. Quantic not only wants to make a contemporary music that honours and respects past, vernacular traditions, he also wants to bring to it a rich diversity that takes it beyond the confines of Colombia. So, on the album – apart from a core of Colombian musicians – there’s Panamanian vocalist – Kabir, Falu – an Indian-born, US-based singer, Pacific Rim folklorist Nidia Gongora, Holland himself, of course, and famed Brazilian string arranger Arthur Verocai. Verocai brings his skills to two of the albums most engaging cuts – ‘Undelivered Letter’ and ‘The Dreaming’ – a tune that tops and tails the album. Both have a magical cinematic quality and an instant engagement. The most immediate vocal cuts feature the aforementioned Kabir. On ‘Linda Morena’ he comes over like a cross between Oscar Brown Jr and Gil Scot-Heron – both sonically and in the narrative nature of the song. His ‘I Just Fell In Love Again’ is different again. It’s a great old style soul roller with a real feel of sparse New Orleans funk. The jazz dancers will love tracks like ‘Mas Pan’, ‘Mambo Los Quantic’ and the lengthy ‘New Morning’, while ‘Arianta’ is whole lot more subtle. It has all the qualities of prime time Sergio Mendes and Alfredo Linares’ piano is a delight. ‘Tradition In Transition’ is no soul or jazz or funk mainliner – but there’s plenty of committed soul, flowing jazz and tight funk throughout the collection.
(BB) 4/5