Imaginary Homeland
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Imaginary Homeland

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"“Imaginary Homeland brings together African xylophone... and talking drums with New York jazz and Appalachian fiddle in [a] seemingly impossible fusion. But from the opening strains of ‘Kanawha Girl’ they had me hooked.”"

Imaginary Homeland brings together African xylophone, percussion, and talking drums with New York jazz and Appalachian fiddle in [a] seemingly impossible fusion. But from the opening strains of ‘Kanawha Girl’ they had me hooked. Here is an old-timey fiddle tune, the melody doubled on saxophone, given a wide-open swing by the acoustic bass, water-drum, frame drum, and body percussion. It moves from the straight traditional tune to rolling improvisations worthy of the best jazz ensembles. With praises to a dozen genres and fealty to none, this quartet is creating an original vocabulary that endorses both jazz and folk as equal partners in their own musical nation. - Dirty Linen Magazine


""Visionary jazz and world-music... drenched in African rhythms, melodies and tonal colors.""

“Roughing it in a hut in rural West Africa for two years, David Rogers, the future leader of The Imaginary Homeland Quartet, studied the talking drum, Ghanaian xylophone and one-string African fiddle with local masters. What this visionary jazz and world-music saxophonist/composer hatched under that thatched hut is a vibrant, often beautiful brand of global fusion music... Melodies inspired by wandering African violinists wail over talking drums. An African xylophone sings; gourd-instruments shake, rattle and roll; a saxophone sermonizes; a violin resonates with European classical double-stops, then pirouettes from African to Appalachian fancy fiddle riffs... Be sure to tune into Rogers’ all-embracing, spirited, spiritual sounds on this delightful disc." - - Hartford Courant


""Brilliant... speaks with loneliness and longing native to everyone.""

“Proof that music is a universal language. Many jazz saxophonists have incorporated elements of African music, with widely varied success. David Rogers, however, might be the first to actually relocate to a thatch hut in the African bush for a real-life apprenticeship. For three years, he lived with master musicians of the Dagbamba and Dagara tribes of northern Ghana. Such a sacrifice was necessary in order to learn their ancient drum languages and earn the trust necessary to perform in their native ceremonies. Unlike jazz musicians who play music influenced by African music, Rogers is now proficient at the real thing.... Brilliant... “The World Is Not Your Home” speaks with loneliness and longing native to everyone.” - - JazzReview


""An original, yet somehow deeply rooted, musical sound.""

"An original, yet somehow deeply rooted, musical sound. [They] have found the non-existent link between Appalachian string bands, Ghanaian percussion, downtown jazz and a host of other ideas that miraculously fit together as if they had the deepest of ethnomusical roots." - -- CDRoots


""From Appalachian folk chants to African rhythms and melodies to the Latin flavors of 'El Sonero,' Imaginary Homeland's saxophone, violin, upright bass and percussion chart a course that is respectful of musical traditions, but seems blissfully unaware of"

"We hear a great deal of talk about the fusion of different world musics... Far rarer, then, is... a group of musicians who, despite playing the same assortment of instruments from moment to moment, can affect a protean, globe-spanning attitude toward different musics... Imaginary Homeland, who really seem to grasp what it is to speak all of the world's languages fluently, have mastered that approach. From Appalachian folk chants to African rhythms and melodies to the Latin flavors of 'El Sonero', Imaginary Homeland's saxophone, violin, upright bass and percussion chart a course that is respectful of musical traditions, but seems blissfully unaware of the lines that divide them." - - Splendid


""Combines the best of contemporary jazz with West African instruments and rhythms... makes you want to get up and dance!""

"These four make music that combines the best of contemporary jazz techniques with West African instruments, melodies, and rhythms. Unlike some world music amalgams, Imaginary Homeland is made up of musicians steeped in both traditions, who delve into the deeper mysteries of these cultures. Rogers is a melodic tenor player who doubles easily on talking drum, and Rice slips easily from Western violin playing to West African fiddling. All this is done with an infectious, lilting passion. The music makes you want to get up and dance, but you never want to stop listening!" - - Ann Arbor Observer


""The 'jazz' label fails to encompass the fresh spirit of this music… Imaginary Homeland is a nice place to visit; come listen for a while.""

"Ever been to a Ghanaian hoedown? Ever met an Appalachian griot? If not, welcome to the world of Imaginary Homeland, a world where an ocean doesn't stand in the way of Afro-Appalacian-jazz collaboration. The CD opens with 'Kanawha Girl,' a name explained in the liner notes to come from the first choice of West Virginians for their pro-Union breakaway territory. Hand-drumming (Mark Stone), acoustic bass (Matt Pavolka), and sax (David Rogers) cruise along in a vaguely Afrojazz locale, until Marlene Rice's fiddling brings it back to Americana. The paired sax and violin on 'Mobius Trip' might bring to your lips the term 'ethnic jazz.' And 'Jump for George' has bass runs and sax riffs that would be at home in a jazz trio. But with the jazz elements accompanied by prominent hand drumming, bells, rattles, and xylophone, the 'jazz' label fails to encompass the fresh spirit of this music. Like any cross-cultural collaboration, it may be spurned by purists. But there's a certain logic in combining the folk music of people on either side of the Atlantic. Imaginary Homeland is a nice place to visit; come listen for a while.” - - Spin the Globe, KAOS Radio


"“Rogers' pieces could only have been conjured via one thoroughly invested in the multiple traditions being considered--think Coltrane's relationship to Indian music.”"

“Rogers is an inventive and charismatic saxist, and as a bandleader he’s savvy enough to make optimal use of what he’s got: that’s not a mere violin Rice is sawing in the opening track, ‘Kanawha Girl’; it’s bona fide crazy-ass African hillbilly fiddle. When Rogers and Stone duel it out on lunndogo talking drums in their ‘Travelogue,’ you might as well be in the heart of an alternative African universe’s own Bonnaroo jam-band land. .. [In] the synthesis of jazz and world music... Rogers' pieces could only have been conjured via one thoroughly invested in the multiple traditions being considered--think Coltrane's relationship to Indian music.” - - Global Rhythm Magazine


"“Enough cannot be said for violinist Marlene Rice. She thrills with exciting jazz and captivating Appalachian techniques that cross continents.”"

"Recommended new listening. Tenor saxophonist David Rogers... spent an extended period of time in Africa and immersed himself in the Ghanaian musical culture of the Dagbamba people. While there, he assimilated their drum-language and horse hair fiddle compositional forms into his already well-grounded mix of Africa and jazz. Upon returning to NYC, he composed and recorded a new blend based on his greater appreciation of the interrelationship of not only jazz, but also Appalachian fiddle, to the music of West Africa... Enough cannot be said for violinist Marlene Rice. She thrills with exciting jazz and captivating Appalachian techniques that cross continents. Rogers also displays his mastery of the 'talking drum' or lunna on several cuts, most notably the worldly funk of 'Travelogue'... [A] complex and stylistically mature quilt of jazz, Appalachia and Africa." - - AllAboutJazz


""You're in good company with Debussy and many other great composers.""

"It's a wonderful sound that the group has; it combines African xylophone, talking drums with American strings and jazz. You're in good company with Debussy and many other great composers who were highly influenced by... music of other cultures." - - George Preston, WNYC-FM 93.9


Discography

Imaginary Homeland
"Jump for George"
Jumbie Records (JMB 0002)

Photos

Bio

IMAGINARY HOMELAND: jazz fused with African rhythm and strings

This acoustic jazz quartet takes a global view, with talking drums, African rhythms, and fiddle music of the Sahara. Led by the "visionary jazz and world-music saxophonist" David Rogers (Hartford Courant), the band’s sound has been called “a fusion masterpiece” (AllAboutJazz).

Jazz composer David Rogers left his Missouri roots and his music conservatory training in the States to spend two years living in the home of master drummers in rural Ghana. Living in a thatch hut through dust storms and rain seasons, he studied the native drum language and history of the talking drum.

When he returned, he formed Imaginary Homeland with three other American musicians whose combined experience stretches from Ghana and Uganda to the hills of West Virginia and downtown New York. Marlene Rice's soaring violin and Matt Pavolka's acoustic bass find the string sound in each of these traditions, while percussionist Mark Stone drives the rhythm.

In their new CD, JUMP FOR GEORGE, Imaginary Homeland finds vivid connections between these and nearer American musical roots. The results will delight music lovers looking for a fresh sound rooted in the traditions of both Africa and the Americas.