February 26, 2014

Music review: ‘Humility: Purity of My Soul’

Chapel Hill native Shirazette Tinnin represents the technically advanced, broadly integrated evolution of jazz time-keeping.

Shirazette Tinnin, who was born in Chapel Hill and graduated from Appalachian State University, is a supple, take-charge drummer who excels at the many rhythmic variations that come under the jazz umbrella these days. She represents the technically advanced, broadly integrated evolution of jazz time-keeping as it incorporates not only swing, but also rock, hip-hop, African, Latin and other grooves.

This is what we hear throughout “Humility: Purity of My Soul” (Hot Tone), wherein Tinnin leads various combinations of rhythmically astute, soulful, highly articulate band members.

The only familiar tune is the late tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance,” which Tinnin and company initiate with an insinuating drums, bass and jabbing keyboard rhythm. The insistent groove subsides for a reflective tenor solo by Camille Thurman and a spacy electric piano solo by either William Delisfort or Rachel Eckroth (the personnel list isn’t clear) and then there is a return to the theme. The solo section comes across as a lyrical alternate to the more typical funk workout favored by other bands.

Tinnin likes to shift intensity and moods during a performance, as further demonstrated by her “Her Powerful Locs” and McCoy Tyner’s “Passion Dance.” The former, the album’s lead-off tune, establishes the band’s killer instinct: intense melody lines, heavy drum beat, Tom DiCarlo’s muscular bass lines, a dazzling Thurman solo interlude and a slamming Delisfort piano solo. With the Tyner tune, there is additional rhythmic flexibility, aggression and excitement.

Twelve musicians appear on the album, mostly in five- or six-piece units, including, on the rockish “My Human Condition,” the lyrical alto saxophonist Tia Fuller. Bassist Mimi Jones, who performs on three tracks, and Thurman, who performs on eight (including as vocalist on one) are connected with Tinnin in additional ways: Tinnin and Thurman appear on Jones’ “Balance” and Tinnin also appears on Thurman’s “Origins” (both on Hot Tone).

Correspondent Owen Cordle

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