Doors Drummer John Densmore's New Project Tribaljazz Releases Debut Album On Hidden Beach
John Densmore has been telling people he's a jazz drummer since his days with the Doors; he finally gets to put his sticks where his mouth has been with Tribaljazz. The Los Angeles-based collective releases its debut album date October 17 on Hidden Beach Recordings.
As their name implies, Tribaljazz combines Densmore's love of the classic jazz of Miles Davis and John Coltrane with the global rhythms he's explored since his first recordings with the Doors (their hit "Break On Through" was inspired by the Bossa Nova beat of "The Girl From Ipanema") through the Middle Eastern grooves heard on last year's "Ray Of The Wine," his collaboration with Master Persian musician Reza Derakshani.
Tribaljazz grew out of a benefit Densmore played for his children's school where he shared the stage with saxophonist and fellow parent Art Ellis. "I liked Art's melodies," Densmore explains, and the two began to rehearse and work on songs that combined jazz sounds with African percussion. They soon invited musicians that embody the diverse nature of Los Angeles and allow Tribaljazz to draw from a wide palate of sounds and rhythms: pianist Quinn Johnson, Cuban born bassist Carlos Del Puerto, Italian-born, Brazil-trained percussionist Cristina Berio and African master drummers Marcel Adjibi and Azziz Faye.
When the new group went into the studio they were joined by guests who reflect Tribaljazz's far ranging music: actress Alfre Woodard adds a hypnotic spoken interlude to the spacey jazz of "The First Time," and Spearhead's Michael Franti brings his distinct grooviness to the percolating "Violet Love." For their cover of the Doors' classic "Riders on the Storm," Densmore brought in a copy of a whispered Jim Morrison vocal that was placed deep in the mix of the version of the song included on the L.A. Woman album. Heard on its own here for the first time, it adds an eerie undercurrent to Tribaljazz's dreamy arrangement.
For Densmore, the music of Tribaljazz, is hard to categorize, but easy to enjoy: "It's not tribal-ethnic and it's not pure jazz; it's a synthesis of the two. That's what I'm interested in. You can make people dance, but improvise on top of it."
Check out JamBase's exclusive feature with John Densmore