Murray (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet) and Laviso are joined by Jaribu Shahid (bass), Renzel Merrit (drums), Klod Kiavue (Ka drums), Francois Landrezeau (Ka drums), Rasul Siddik (trumpet), Herve Samb (guitar), and special guest vocalists Taj Mahal and Sista Kee. While the music on the disc has elements that will be familiar to anyone conversant with jazz, there's also the distinct flavour of the Caribbean to it that gives it a texture I've not heard before. It's hard to describe as it doesn't come across as any particular sound or rhythm, but more like a sense of overall movement that is different from almost anything else I've come across in either jazz or music from the islands either.
All the tracks on the disc are original tunes with music by Murray, and lyrics for "Africa" and "The Devil Tried To Kill Me" by poet Ishmael Reed and "Southern Skis" by Grace Rutledge and Kito Gamble. There are two versions of both "Africa" and "Southern Skies" included on the disc, with the second ones being shorter versions edited for radio play. "Southern Skies" and "Africa" stand out in particular on the disc for their provocative lyrics. "Africa," which features Taj Mahal's growl, looks at the continent from the point of view of a person describing how they would provide care for it if they were a hospice worker and Africa were a patient in an infirmary. Aside from ensuring she has enough food and proper medical care, the hospice worker would also ensure that Africa's bed pan was emptied, her sheets would be changed regularly, and her body washed carefully to make sure there was no chance of bed sores.
It's hard to figure whether Reed, who wrote "Africa," sees the continent as being that sick, is commenting on the neglect and lack of care shown her by the rest of the world, or is describing the depth of his love for her — or even a little bit of all the above. "Southern Skies" on the other hand is more direct in its statement as it is a lament for the ill treatment of African American women at the hands of men. Sista Kee and Taj Mahal share the vocals on this song, with both of them delivering the solid message that things have to change: "Southern sky is cryin' cause she/Still payin dues."
As leader of the band you'd expect David Murray to be front and centre on most of the material, and while he delivers some great solos with his tenor saxophone, there's a wonderful point on the opening track "Kiama Fro Obama," where he takes flight; his priority is obviously the integration of the two different styles of music. Even the solo on track one is built up to gradually over the course of the tune until it finally rises up almost of its own volition - as if the saxophone was some mysterious tropical bird bursting out of its lush jungle background. The other occasion I noticed Murray's playing in particular was on track six, "Canto Oneguine," taken from an opera about the Russian author Pushkin - who was of Cameroonian descent - which Murray wrote the music for.