Voted onto the 84th and 86th annual Downbeat Readers Poll for Guitar, Charlie Apicella takes a fascinating career turn on the auspiciously titled Destiny Calling, a fusion of his longtime organ jazz ensemble Iron City with percussion legend Juma Sultan (most famous for his appearance with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock) and NYC loft jazz pioneers The Griots.
Yet he insists his truly out there but compelling and intoxicatingly exotic deep diver into pan ancestral, pan African territory isn’t a departure from his previous work, simply a chance to head further into “new waters.” So let’s consider this the eclectic jazz equivalent of Paul Simon’s African Graceland excursions, which featured collaborations with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
From the subtly tribal opener “As The Sun Rises,” which features the wavering clarinet of multi-reedsman Daniel Carter and Brad Whitley’s distant Hammond B-3 percolations, through the tense and bluesy, briskly grooving “Sparks” – featuring Carter’s funked up sax – Apicella’s globally conscious compositions are inspired by his first teacher, Yusef Lateef, and the Himalayan folk drum the guitarist received from him. On this nine track set, he also plays the madal drum and Tibetan singing bowls. His decision to join forces with the trailblazing Juma and The Griots Speak was rooted in his love for Hendrix and Juma’s unique sound.
Time will tell if this unusual but highly engaging and wildly adventurous creative excursion is a cool one-off or the start of a whole new slate of trippy, spiritually insightful magic.