Roy Campbell Ensemble: Akhenaten Suite CD
"Akhenaten Suite is one of master Roy Campbell's crowning achievements as a player-composer-arranger, and became his final album statement as a leader. This great work finds every member of the astonishing ensemble in peak, highly inspired form. Essential.
"A thoroughly refreshing album on several counts: the true suite form, the ensemble itself, the soloing. A tour de force." –Point of Departure
"Roy Campbell's approach is to swallow all musical concepts, converting 'world music' into one music. His trumpet comes with the lyricism of Freddie Hubbard, the freedom of Albert Ayler, and the worldliness of Don Cherry." –All About Jazz
Roy Campbell was a jazz trumpeter and composer of the first order, one who encompassed the tradition even as he pushed the music forward. He was a founding member of the luminous collective Other Dimensions In Music, Marc Ribot’s Spiritual Unity project, and too many more to name here. He had long been a sonic frontiersman, embracing the universality of a sound continuum in which the Harlem-bound A Train and the majestic River Nile are moonlit reflections of each other. Here Campbell turns his hand to an extended work inspired by Amenhotep IV, Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. Akhenaten Suite, specially commissioned for and recorded live at the 2007 Vision Festival, is a splendid passage to a fabled dimension. It’s realized by musicians – including Billy Bang on violin – who had an intimate affiliation with Campbell’s vibrant brass styllings and wonderfully open, expansive compositions.
“Always swinging infectiously .. melodic and charming .. one of the most enchanting sets of this fest.”
–BLG, Downtown Music Gallery
"5 Stars! Roy Campbell has always been one of my favorite musicians, because of the unbelievable emotional strength of his trumpet playing and his musical vision. For this album, he teams up with some of his former band-mates and musical friends: Billy Bang on violin, Bryan Carrott on vibraharp, Hilliard Greene on bass and Zen Matsuura on drums. Campbell has always had an interest in ancient Egypt, and this is his second Nile Suite if you will, the first one being with Dennis Gonzalez (highly recommended). This album is very much in the same vein, full of middle-eastern scales and spiritual yearning. The themes are long, broad, dramatic, cinematic, impressive and imposing, nicely evoking the power and the spiritual vision of the great pharaoh Akhenaten, who – in order to break the power of the ruling classes of priests – claimed that there was only one god. A major epidemic outbreak swept through the region, killing a large part of the population. His opponents claimed that this was caused by the wrath of the gods. His son Tutankhamun succeeded him on the throne at the age of nine. After his reign, his religious beliefs were overruled by the class of priests, and both father and son were even deleted from all records in the pharaoh' lineage. So – drama enough to inspire Campbell's fantastic suite, in which his trumpet-playing plays a major role, with Bang and Carrott nicely contributing and offering the necessary depth and contrast. Campbell's soloing is varying between intimacy and powerplay, and emotionally strong in a way that few trumpeters can equal. Green and Matsuura's contributions are excellent in helping to create the overall coherent atmosphere. Grand and majestic music!" –Stef, The Free Jazz Collective
This project was supported by the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; released in cooperation with Arts for Art, Inc. "