Yves Peeters is a Belgian drummer who has been fascinated by the rich musical history of New Orleans. With his project Gumbo he tries to blend jazz, gospel, blues, funk and parade bands music together. He also got help from some well-known musicians, including Francois Vaiana & Bruce James (vocals), Nicolas Kummert (tenor sax); Dree Peremans (trombone) and Nicolas Thys (bass).
The album opens with the groovy 'My Gombo's Free', a warm and soulful song which somehow reminds me of world music festivals in the midst of summer. That feeling continues throughout the first three songs. It is as if this band is playing, much to the enjoyment of a big smile wearing audience, while the sun is heating up all the souls in attendance. Funk, groovy, soul and jazz are being blended into a joyful Mardi Gras.
'Force Of Nature Part 1' takes on a full-on jazz approach with solos and complex rhythms while 'Part 2' suddenly comes up with what seems like African chants and immersive percussion. I guess this second part is my favorite tune on this album. Both songs also show the versatility of this project, making music that sounds familiar but never hesitates to experiment a little, I quite like that about this album.
'Lighthouse' suddenly goes a lot darker, driving on piano, bass, lingering wind instruments and minimalistic soundscapes. It nudges towards the darkjazz scene, which I like a lot. Perhaps this is also the most radio friendly song on this album, but to be honest, I have no idea about the music they play on the radio nowadays. I prefer to ignore that medium. Nonetheless, this is a strong piece of music.
'Masquerade' shows the big band approach and 'No Hero' is a calm ballad, driving on almost droning bass. Both are again two quite different songs on an already highly varied album. But the key question is, 'who am I going to recommend this to?' Well, if you're into jazz, funk, soul and groove, this certainly is something that you want to check out. If not, do it anyway, it wouldn't be the first time you're pleasantly surprise by something beyond your own scene.