"King of Xhosa"
Street Date: January 17, 2017
Featuring South African Trumpeter Feya Faku
“Jeff’s musicality is incredible. He is so tasty as a percussionist and he has become a fine composer/arranger.” – NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath
On the Jeff Siegel Quartet’s third studio recording, the stalwart drummer merges his high energy, straight ahead post-bop with the deeply spiritual stylings of trumpet master Feya Faku to produce a vibrant sonic tapestry of South African infused jazz. “King of Xhosa” brings together Siegel’s longstanding quartet comprised of saxophonist Erica Lindsay, pianist Francesca Tanksley, and bassist Rich Syracuse with percussionist Fred Berryhill and trumpeter extraordinaire Feya Faku.
Jeff Siegel and Feya Faku first came together in 2014 in Siegel’s home-turf of Woodstock, New York when Faku visited there to perform with Uhadi, his group of select South African musicians. Siegel was immediately drawn to Faku’’s sound. “From the first time I heard Feya in Woodstock, I knew that he had the perfect vibe, sound and soul to fit with my own quartet,” says Siegel. That summer, Siegel embarked on the trip of a lifetime to Cape Town and Grahamstown, South Africa, where he participated in the International Association of Schools of Jazz, and performed at the Grahamstown Jazz Festival. It was during this profound trip that the idea of a collaboration with Faku truly took hold. “Because African music is the roots of what we play as Jazz musicians, there was a feeling of being home while I was there,” he says, “…it was a blessing to meet, hear and play with wonderful musicians and experience the soul of Africa firsthand.
The title “King of Xhosa” is an homage to the South African musician as well as his people. “Feya’s lineage is of the tribe known as Xhosa – the 2nd largest ethnic group in South Africa after the Zulus. They are known as “prophets” and have had several kings,” explains Siegel, adding that although Feya himself is not a “king” per se, he nonetheless “carries and conducts himself in a most regal manner.”
Homage is a recurring theme on “King of Xhosa” with each of the nine tracks having been composed with specific inspirations in mind. On ‘Totem,’ the album’s opening ‘call to worship’ inspired by Xhosa dancers, Faku’s resonate vocals soar. On ‘Prayer’, composer Tanksley pays tribute to the “power of merciful love”, while Faku composed ‘Courage’ with his teachers in mind. Siegel’s poignant ‘Ballad of the Innocent’ is dedicated to the victims of the Brussells bombing while Tanksley’s ‘Life on the Rock’ is dedicated to each of the musicians on “King of Xhosa”.
All in all, “King of Xhosa” is a celebration of the intersection of cultures. “I hope this music in some way reflects the deep respect I have for the great cultures of both Africa and the United States. While we are profoundly aware of the great pain that resulted in the birth of Jazz music, born from the tragedy of slavery, we are forever blessed with the positive outcome of the joining of these cultures in music. I pray that this recording shall add some positivity, inspiration and strength to a troubled world in whatever small way it can,” says Siegel.
"This may be the best record you’ll overlook this year." Read the full review here.
"Jeff “Siege” Siegel just might be the hardest-working jazz drummer in the Hudson Valley". Read full article here.
"Siegel is one of the veterans of American jazz." Read full Russian review here.
"A wild ride that will take you many places you never expected to hear, this is a high water mark for creative jazz. Check it out. " Read full review here.
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"This one’s a keeper for fans of classic Impulse! albums." Read the full feature here.
"The new album of the quartet of drummer Jeff "Siege" Siegel demonstrates the extraordinary vitality of the New York jazz scene". Read full review here.
RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA
"Jeff “Siege” Siegel shows a masterful grasp of the many-splendoured tonal languages of the Xhosa, a facet of his music that is displayed in the brilliance of the writing and in the performances by the wonderful soloists in this ensemble."
"This is a quintessential modern jazz record, and an exceptional one at that." Read full article here.
BIRD IS THE WORM
"Things get plenty evocative and there’s a deft balance between intensity and joyfulness." Read the full review here.