Disclaimer: this isn’t exactly a review since Ibrahim Electric – The Compilation has “Promotional Copy – Not For Sale” printed on the cover. Though you can’t take this article as advice on whether or not you should buy the CD, you can take it as advice on whether or not you should check the band out at the JZ Shanghai Music Festival.
Short version: if you like music and fun, yes you should. They are definitely going to kill it and judging by this CD they are a party band of the highest order. For this band the first order of business is having a good time. They’re a Hammond organ trio that’s not afraid to play up some of the kitschy associations of that instrument without letting them become a dead end. They’re serious about having fun, not just with cute references, but by playing music that’s infectious. It’s something I’ve thought of before re: the irony that my generation is known for. The irony where you just bring up something cheesy to laugh at is dry and dead. The kind where you wink to acknowledge that maybe it’s not the hippest, in fact maybe it’s a bit silly, but you really love it: this kind of irony is friendly and alive, the kind that you hear from Talking Heads and Sonny Rollins. Theirs is the warm and inclusive dry wit rather than the shallow and cruel kind. I acknowledge with sadness than when people complain about my generation they’re complaining about the latter type of irony.
Anyway, Ibrahim Electric are definitely in this good category, so if we can’t claim Rollins or the Heads at least we’ve got these dudes. In the retro absinthe-themed video included on the CD they cite jazz, afro beat, and surf as their genres. (There’s definitely some Booker T. and the M.G.s in there too, including a nod to the song about which I wrote my most delirious review to date. It was on youtube which is obviously no good for my China people, but it’s called “Time is Tight” and it shouldn’t be that hard to find on the old internets.) There are definitely tunes that fit all those genres, but let it be known to those jazz-loathing people who are among us that it’s soul jazz basically, so you won’t get a headache from all those confusing chords. It’s fun, I promise. Anyway, I’m going to have to continue handing out Layabozi points for wide-ranging tastes. 50 to these guys for doing surf, afro-beat, jazz, and more. I hope the guys in accounting don’t get mad at me because I’m pretty sure that the plan was that nobody would ever amass enough points to get the much coveted Layabozi snowboard.
There’s a nice mix on this CD between longer jam-out tunes (most of which are live tracks from their two albums they recorded with trombonist Ray Anderson, who fits right in to the vibe and will be missed at the festival) and the shorter studio tracks which are almost instrumental pop songs in the vein of the aforementioned Booker T. and the M.G.s. There’s nice use of the different sounds the B3 presents, both tasty and screaming guitar, and nice work on the drums, though the crash cymbal sound is kind of weirding me out somehow. Ray Anderson totally rips with soulful melodic stuff, circular breathing grooving, and free jazz freakouts, but again, he’s not going to be at the festival. So are you convinced yet? Check out their myspace, website, and definitely check them out at the festival next weekend. YOU WILL HAVE FUN!