Contemporary jazz has been fertile ground for cultural mashups over the last few years. Entire record labels, such as Zoho, are completely dedicated to the idea of jazz traditions being absorbed into folk music traditions and coming out on the other side all fresh and new. The Afro Yaqui Music Collective, however, seems to turn these ideas up to 11 by mixing up erhus with electric basses, pipas and saxophones, and you get the idea. It’s a music collective, after all. It’s all about multiple energies focused and directed.
But what makes this album, Maroon Futures, so exciting is that it carries this diverse group of musicians through an equally diverse set of musical styles such as fusion, rock, big band jazz, hip-hop, spoken word and perhaps, most steadily, funk. Afro Yaqui Music Collective is a party, brimming with ideas and chaos, and all of it will make you wanna dance.
Once you settle into the Afro Yaqui groove, the true purpose of this music starts to emerge. This bouncy survey of world music influences addresses a more serious topic of how working immigrant communities are always under attack, and how the ravages of climate change have contributed to this “rapidly changing political climate.” Behind the scenes, The Afro Yaqui Music Collective works with global activists and brings these ideals through their live performances–which must be amazing–at universities. When they feel compelled to pick up a protest sign and march, they do.
That, of course, shouldn’t negate your urge to dance to the Afro Yaqui music. Rather, it underlines the pure inspiration and creativity behind these amazing fifteen performers and how they bring everything they have to the occasion. Maroon Futures doesn’t have a moment of filler–it’s lean and direct and potent in its delivery. If you’re just interested in good music rather than provocative ideas, you’ll still get up to dance.