Positive Knowledge: First Ones (2005)
Live and on record, Oluyemi and Ijeoma Thomas cover a lot of musical ground with their Positive Knowledge projects. First Ones continues that trend, featuring the powerful reed player and the fearless vocalized word magic of Ms. Thomas, along with long time collaborator Spirit on percussion. Ike Levin comes aboard on this edition, engaging Oluyemi in reed-ripping exchanges.
"Unexplained Reality/Events at the Edge opens with Ijeoma and the two horns improvising with Spirit's playful understated clatter. As Thomas commences her recitation, the horns heat up, all members feeding the momentum of passion. Shifting percussion under her solo voice leads to a bass clarinet/tenor duet that ends it. Levin goes from kalimba to bass clarinet opposite Oluyemi on soprano for "Message of the Stones. Ijeoma soars with the horns, her meanings soaring higher. Levin and Oluyemi play birdsong chatter with her swooping vocals, ultimately resolving as a percussion piece. Percussion, kalimba, and whistles greet Ijeoma on the title track, her stirring wordless vocal and inspired meditation on origins fleshing it out.
Various percussives open Mystic Dialogues, then the two bass clarinets circle, echo, and dialogue. With Levin on tenor and Thomas on C-melody saxophone, sparks fly on "SUMOTUWE. Ijeoma jumps in with "Sing sister, tell it in black and shredding vocalese. Spirit gets his own performance on "In the Center of Boom, while "Expression for Peace gives Levin a soulful solo tenor spot. "Crises to Victory begins spinning through the speakers, little instruments setting the stage for Oluyemi's thoughtful soprano. Ijeoma improvises a duet with atmospheric percussion from Spirit. Levin brings his tenor for a four-way composition, ending the piece with Spirit. Light percussion preludes Oluyemi's soprano tour de force on "Sea of Joy, while Levin and Thomas blister each other on "Prayerful Devotion, Ijeoma providing a serene space on kalimba.
Exponents of universalism and extended creativity, the artists of Positive Knowledge withhold nothing, playing music drenched in soul brilliance and joy.
Track Listing: Unexplained Reality/Events at the Edge; Message of the Stones; First Ones; Mystic Dialogues; SUMOTUWE (after Betty Carter); In the Center of Boom; Expression for Peace; Crises to Victory; Sea of Joy (for Dr. Elise Austin); Prayerful Devotion (for the Children and Elders).
Personnel: Oluyemi Thomas: bass clarinet, C-melody saxophone, soprano saxophone, musette, flute, gong, talking drum, percussion; Ijeoma Thomas: poetic vocals, gong, percussion; Spirit: drums, percussion, talking drum; Ike Levin: tenor sax, bass clarinet, percussion.