By Chris Tart | Published September 2017
Eclectic Australian jazz outfit The Vampires have collaborated with esteemed African-born guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke for an exciting new collection of songs, aptly titled The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke. The album combines a variety of influences, including Afrobeat and jazz, to deliver a fresh and lively sound over the course of 10 tracks. Jeremy Rose, alto and tenor saxophone player in The Vampires, wrote all but three songs on the album; the others were spearheaded by trumpeter Nick Garbett.
The loose feel from the versatile LP is attributed to The Vampires’ homeland of Australia, where they invited Loueke to record and tour for the project. “Hard Love” is influenced by Jamaican Nyabinghi music, and the succeeding “Freedom Song” is a powerful dub-reggae number that is dedicated to the refugees held on Australia’s controversial offshore detention centers. “Bendalong” keeps the reggae vibe going, albeit a bit lighter, before “Torta Salata,” one of Garbett’s numbers, keeps things upbeat.
The album is a worthy addition to the catalogs of both The Vampires and Loueke, without either party succumbing fully to the other’s bag of tricks. If jazz music is about continuously reinventing and staying on your toes, then The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke is a phenomenal recording by a worldly, talented and newly minted five-piece band.
The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke: Endings & Beginnings Pt. I; Hard Love; Freedom Song; Green, Green, Green; Bendalong; Torta Salata; Suck A Seed; Ubud Bubble; Brand New; Endings & Beginnings Pt. II. (54:49)
Personnel: Jeremy Rose, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Nick Garbett, trumpet; Lionel Loueke, guitar, vocals; Jonathan Zwartz, bass (except 3, 5); Danny Fischer, drums (except 3, 5); Alex Masso, percussion.