Between the cover art and the title, you might quite reasonably think you’ve stumbled upon an album from some sort of way cool Afro-futurist outfit. Nope. Turns out Roots Magic are actually an adventurous Italian jazz outfit. Even so, their latest album Take Root Among the Stars is also way cool — primarily because the inventive quartet gamely deconstruct classics by everyone from Delta bluesmen like Charley Patton and Skip James to jazz iconoclasts like Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, revamping them into muscular groovathons, hard-driving post-bop barnburners and free-jazz skronkfests. Root out this one.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Take Root Among the Stars, quoting the words of the great science fiction writer Octavia Butler, is Roots Magic’s third instalment. Cut by the Italian quartet, here and there augmented by a couple of special guests — historical wind player Eugenio Colombo and vibes maestro Francesco Lo Cascio — this new album comes as a further step into the borderland between Deep Blues and Creative Jazz. The new repertoire includes reworked tunes by Skip James, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Charles Tyler and Ornette Coleman plus new works on some of the band’s favorite composers, Charley Patton, Phil Cohran, John Carter, and Sun Ra. The album opens up with Cohran’s Frankiphone Blues, a deep sensuous Afro oriented groove and tight horn arrangements, perfectly enhanced by Colombo’s flute solo and Lo Cascio’s oblique harmonies. Energy music and Free Jazz keep striking a chord with the four Italians via the ultra-out spiritual sound of Kalaparusha and some boiling improvisations on their tribute to Tyler. The spirit of the Delta is conjured here through a challenging version of James’s daunting classic Devil Got my Woman and the fat, earthy pulse of Patton’s Mean Black Cat Blues. The album closes with Carter’s Karen on Monday, a beautiful contemplative clarinet tune immersed in a wide-open soundscape with the quartet displaying a more explorative approach to sound, timbre, and noise.”