Though not quite a household name, Brother Ah (aka Robert Northern) is one of the most decorated names in jazz having played with everyone from Donald Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, to Gil Evans and, most crucially, Sun Ra. His third LP, Key to Nowhere, is a stunning mix of non-Western sounds and various forms of jazz. Mbira, berimbau, and nayamka (a sort of Jamaican drum) meet flute, harmonica, french horn, conch shell and gorgeous harp played by Ashram student Jeff Majors. As with most artists who went through the Sun Ra Arkestra, the cosmic one’s influence is strong here and perhaps can be heard most prominently through vocalist Natasha Hassam Youssef’s spoken word and wild, free-form vocals that remind us quite a bit of June Tyson. Be sure to also check out his previous album, Move Ever Onward, which was also reissued by Manufactured Recordings.
– Phil Cho
Recommended – A2 Sekou, A3 Hanifah
Tags: avant / Soul-jazz / Spiritual Jazz / Spoken Word