Kane Mathis : Geminus Review
Kane Mathis is now releasing his album titled, Geminus. Mathis has studied the Kora and Oud intensely for over 23 years, and Geminus features him on both instruments in a trio setting with fellow New York-based musicians John Hadfield on drums (Yo-Yo Ma, Kinan Azmeh) and Sam Minaie on bass (Tigran Hamasyan, Mark Guiliana). In live sessions over three days, the trio was recorded and mixed by John Davis (Brad Mehldau) at The Bunker recording studio in Brooklyn, New York. The music is ten tracks of original material by Mathis based on the tradition of both instruments while still moving forward with new forms and improvisations.
“Kürdi 7 and 9” is given an energetic groove and a cross between fusion jazz and world. Mathis oud playing has dynamics, clear articulation, and a deep-rooted feeling of groove. Hadfield and Minaie are supportive and interactive. Both get space to shine too, which makes the conversational style of the song stand out that much more. Mathis has a warm sound on the oud that projects his visions and his musical ability. The engaging sounds and exchanges of the trio are equally built from traditional and modern elements, giving the music a fascinating and fresh allure.
“Gemini” opens with Hadfield playing with brushes and Minaie playing a steady bassline. Mathis switches to the Kora for this selection, which shimmers with beauty and mystery. The song is definitely based on repeating patterns, called Kumbengo, that swirl with energy to build rich harmonic and rhythmic structures. Mathis’ improvised section is stunning; the multiple layers of activity and melody are sustained with concentration and precision. Another stunning example of Mathis’ composing and playing in between the traditional and contemporary. The song progresses in a way that is firmly rooted in the traditional, but the bass and drums and improvised sections of the form transform this into something exceptional.
Geminus is a creative journey through Mathis’ multidisciplinary intellect, talent, and dual instrumental skills. He has taken the challenges of the architecture of tradition and added a musical synthesis of drums and bass, new rhythms, and forms to push the traditional sound past where it stemmed. However, the truth is that the resulting program of music is a sum total of Mathis’ life experiences and interests, and one that is a pleasing listening experience to travel. This is world music coalesced in the conception and ultimate realization of creating something new, but still based on the cultures they are inspired from. Highly recommended.