By Ed Enright | Published October 2018
With his recently formed group Melting Pot, saxophonist Dave Anderson seeks to celebrate musical styles brought from abroad to the United States. In so doing, the world-jazz ensemble demonstrates an ability to integrate disparate musical influences into a vital whole while making an anti-xenophobic statement about America’s current immigration climate.
Melting Pot’s lineup reflects the diversity of New York’s international creative music community: In addition to Anderson on alto and soprano saxophones, the aggregation features Colombian-American drummer Memo Acevedo, Venezuelan-American percussionist Roberto Quintero, tabla artist Ehren Hanson, sitarist/vocalist Neel Murgai, Austrian-American bassist Hans Glawischnig, Canadian pianist David Restivo, British trumpeter Bryan Davis and Israeli flutist Itai Kriss in configurations of varying sizes. The five original compositions on Melting Pot’s new self-titled album intermix straightahead and Afro-Latin jazz with Indian ragas and traditional Jewish, Mongolian and Brazilian influences. The three-movement “Immigration Suite” serves as the centerpiece of this cultural fusion, each piece inspired by a specific person who embodies a telling aspect of the immigrant experience, according to Anderson. The music, while geographically restless in its East-West blend, likely will sound completely natural to any jazz listener with a taste for world music. It all comes together in a way that’s both artistic and logical. There’s no force-fitting of genres or vocabulary going on here—just a coalescence of solid grooves, enticing melodies, exploratory improvisations and a full spectrum of exotic tonal colors. This is music for progressive thinkers, compassionate souls and world travelers (armchair or otherwise).