Anthony Joseph is an intriguing multicultural all-rounder. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, but now based in London, he’s a poet, novelist and university lecturer, as well as a musician and leader of this wildly eclectic band. His music is based around his poetry, and the poems are mostly spoken or furiously declaimed rather than sung, and are matched by insistent backing work that mixes funk, jazz and rock with the global influences of his Caribbean childhood, through to Afrobeat. And it works, remarkably well, thanks to the contagious enthusiasm of his band, and the confident, varied production work, mostly provided by Malcolm Catto, leader of the Heliocentrics, celebrated for their work with Ethiopian jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke. There are passages of slinky funk riffs, jazz improvisation featuring saxophone, flute and percussion, and occasional soulful vocals from Jasnett Lindo. The final track, the 11-minute Generations, is a lighter, more drifting piece, arranged and produced by Jerry Dammers, that deals with Joseph’s homeland and ancestors. Like many of the poems on this original set, it’s a mixture of the thoughtful and surreal.
Review by Robin Denselow (Thursday 13 October 2011 )