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Review: Cochemea Channels Cosmic Jazz-Funk on ‘All My Relations’

West Coast saxophonist, with a resume including Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones, conjures pow-wows, peyote ceremonies, and Gnawa trance rituals on a groove-rich set

cochemea

Jacob Blickenstaff

Cochemea Gastelum is a horn player rooted in groove music: part of a network of players associated with Brooklyn’s Daptone label, he’s worked with Amy Winehouse, Antibalas, and Sharon Jones, an anchor of her band, the Dap-Kings. His first solo album, The Electric Sounds of Johnny Arrow, showed off those roots — a parti-colored mixtape that percolated with Ethiopian funk, Afrobeat, boogaloo, wah-wah guitar, and Bitches Brew­ – style jazz-rock roaming.

All My Relations pushes a similar mix further out. The map-points range far afield: Northern Africa on “Al-Mu’Tasim,” with elastic bass lines played on the gimbre lute (a staple of Gnawa trance music); Mexico on “Mitote,” a Miles Davis-flavored jam conjuring Aztec dances and peyote rituals, and powered by Indian dhol drum (courtesy Sunny Jain, of Brooklyn internationalists Red Baarat). By the time the album reaches the drift of “Los Muertos,” it’s deep in cosmic jazz territory, claiming space the way Kamasi Washington does, or Alice Coltrane, whose seminal spiritual-jazz recordings have been experiencing a welcome renaissance of late.

But Cochemea makes omnivorous music, antsy and tough to pin down. As you’d expect from a Daptone production, it has a crisp, clipped vintage-gear airiness and an earthy rare groove feel. And while “Asatoma” floats hypnotically on heavy reverb, handclaps and a chant of “om shanti,” tracks like “Seyewailo” and “Song of Happiness” deliver bright, lightweight jazz melodies that evoke Seventies public-TV bump music. Yet the 10 short tracks on All My Relations blur into a single unbroken trip over its 35 minutes. By the time it ends, you want to take it again.

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