By Kerilie McDowall | Published December 2019
Resisting hatred and injustice, U.K. vocalist Ola Onabulé’s Point Less spurs contemplation through involute lyrics grieving violence, xenophobia and corruption. Cynical undertones surface from storyteller Onabulé’s 15 intricate jazz arrangements, displaying fusions of pop, r&b and Latin jazz, enhanced by musical influences from Nigeria, where Onabulé spent his youth. The bandleader points out the pervasiveness of victim blaming within a violent culture on the 3/4 jazz cut “Point Less,” where John Parricelli’s guitar wraps around sonorous piano and drummer Jack Pollitt’s fine brush work. Toying with the pairing of opposites, “And Yet” is an r&b/jazz track demonstrating Onabulé’s commanding three-and-a-half-octave range, where lyrics replay centuries of bigotry. Contrasting the ironic elated vibe of “What The Heck,” Onabulé again fuses jazz and pop, driving verses and happy-go-lucky piano with vocals hinting at the sociopathy of hegemony. Wistful harmonica introduces the closer, “You Can’t Depend On Love,” where the vocalist’s uplifting work is a prized gift—an antidote to hope’s defeat.
Point Less: Throwaway Notion; The Old Story; Point Less; And Yet; Exit Wound; What The Heck; Ballad Of The Star Crossed; I Knew Your Father; Suru Lere; Tender Heart; Conceive It; So They Say; Pas Famille; You Can’t Depend On Love. (82:33)
Personnel: Ola Onabulé, vocals; Duncan Eagles, saxophone; Berthold Matschat, harmonica; John Parricelli, Al Cherry, Femi Temowo, Guillermo Hill, guitar; Pete Adams, John Crawford, piano; Ross Stanley, piano, Rhodes; George Hazelrigg, Hammond organ; Phil Mulford, bass; Will Fry, percussion. Jack Pollitt, Chris Nickolls, drums.