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  • Jonathan Widran

ART "TURK" BURTON, Ancestral Spirits

Not that we truly needed a refresher, but we learn in the liner notes to Art “Turk” Burton’s free for all celebration of all things percussion Ancestral Spirits that in indigenous African societies, “the drum represents the heartbeat, the very lifeblood of humanity, of every living thing.”

If we don’t believe it with all our hearts and souls after Burton – a veteran conguero and bongo player who’s ensembled with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Muhal Richard Abrams – and his powerhouse ensemble get through pounding it (literally!) through our tappin’ toes, snappin’ fingers and throbbing heart, we just never will. He sets the tone with the deeply infectious statement of purpose, “Soul Drummers,” featuring a provocative poem written and read dramatically by his wife Peresina Burton.

When she intones, “Drummers here! Drummers there! Drummers everywhere!”, she’s talking about the universe – and of course this majestic and expansive eight song exotic groovefest. These are wild, newfangled, you’ve never heard ‘em quite like this before renditions of classics like “Night in Tunisia,” “All Blues” and possibly the sassiest, most Latinized cartwheel through “Summertime” ever.

They bloom around the project’s centerpiece and title track, a raucous, hypnotic sax and percussion/soundscape jam that seems designed to call forth those Ancestral Spirits by making enough joyful noise to wake them all and keep up for hours, if not centuries.

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