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Wainwright Jr., E.w.

African Roots Of Jazz

AROJ Records

"This record literally came to us right thru our front door; a regular at the store brought us an intriguing looking LP that someone had given him at a flea market with the tag-line 'One Man’s Struggle to Preserve the Heritage of his Culture.' We dropped the needle on it and were floored by the sound—an inspired blend of spiritual jazz with elements of gospel, fusion, and free jazz with a beautiful church choir providing set dressing on some blazing bass & sax. And wow, this drummer slays! Is this some deleted Tribe title, or a forgotten Strata East release? How have we not heard of any of these session players? Is this first track even at the right speed? After weeks of finding crumbs on the trail, we finally connected with the architect of this unheralded gem E.W. WAINTWRIGHT himself, who’d been hiding in plain sight as a performing arts consultant for the Learning without Limits College Preparatory School. Wainwright mentored under Elvin Jones and performed with greats such as McCoy Tyner & Pharoah Sanders but limited his performing schedule to focus on what he calls 'the family thing.' Despite a career spanning 50 years playing venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, a yearly engagement at the Discovery Museum, and the World Peace Conference in Paris, Baba Wain (as the kids call him) remains committed to the local community, teaching 5 days a week and giving drum lessons on the weekend as well as being a participating artist in the Arts in Corrections program at San Quentin Prison, earning him a 'Local Hero of the Year' award from KQED. E.W. Wainwright’s African Roots of Jazz is all you would hope for from a private press spiritual jazz record—a truly unique and engaging sound with nods to collaborators Tyner & Sanders and also the reverent tone of Coltrane (and her husband John), the intricate & specific arrangements of Ornette Coleman, the jittery percussive strut of Andrew Cyrille, and of course plenty of the big beat sound of mentor Elvin Jones. Woefully limited but truly unmissable."—Econo Jam

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