Imaginary Homeland,
Jump for George
(Jumbie, 2004)

Jump for George is classified as world music, but it might be more correct to call it jazz played with world instruments. Much of the music sounds improvised, and the tracks are long, ranging from seven to 12 minutes.

David Rogers, the leader of the group Imaginary Homeland, plays alto and tenor saxophones and other percussion. He shares most of the lead work with Marlene Rice on violin, Matt Pavolka on acoustic bass and Mark Stone on gyil (a xylophone from Africa) and a variety of percussion.

There is some jazz structure, with Rogers and Rice often playing a melodic theme at the beginning and end of many of the seven cuts. But the instruments make the music sound unique.

Violin has never had a big place in jazz, and Rice draws on other sources. There is a lot of folk, swing and even gypsy in her playing, with a bit of blues and gospel. She is an inspired player, using many ideas and interesting melodic changes.

Rogers shares many of the same influences. He is closer to klezmer than Coltrane and more folk than funk with his tuneful playing. The last cut, "The World is Not Your Home," even has a touch of avant-garde classical.

Both Pavolka's rhythm and solo work is dexterous. Stone is brilliant on the gyil, which he plays on the title track (he plays it extensively on the CD Bernard Woma in Concert).

Some things like body percussion don't quite come off in the recording, and the talking drum, played by both Rogers and Stone, is a limited instrument. But Stone's "African drum set" and many other drums and rattles add interesting variety and textures.

Imaginary Homeland has only been together a few years, but they work quite well, seamlessly combining many types of music.

by Dave Howell
25 November 2006

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