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Sunday, November 20, 2022

Moor Mother –Jazz Codes (Anti, 2022)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

There’s been a lot of praise on this site for the vibrant, politically charged free jazz (and beyond) of Irreversible Entanglements. But what about the other projects of Moor Mother, aka Camae Ayewa? Well, since the mid-2010’s when she blasted herself into the current music world, everything she produces –be it solo or collaboration- gets well deserved praise. It would be no exaggeration (but, yes, I’m a fan) to comment that her music is deeply rooted in the great Black tradition, Afrofuturism, while the political (especially her identity as a Black female in contemporary USA) is ever present.

So, definitely, there’s a lot of jazz in her music and it couldn’t be any other way. On Jazz Codes, nowadays on a bigger label like Anti-, collaborations with musicians like Keir Neiringer and Nicole Mitchell (check their duo live album on Don Giovanni Records from 2020) and the whole of Irreversible Entanglements support the aforementioned remark. Even though the title suggests a more jazzy approach, that seems, after repeated listening, a rather arbitrary comment. Moor Mother’s music, be it more improvisational or more structured like here in Jazz Codes, is totally based in the jazz tradition, as much as it in funk, soul, hip-hop.

The eighteen tracks that comprise Jazz Codes are no less edgy, angry and full of energy compared to her previous ventures. All of them (and I mean all) seem like a journey through styles of Black music, a journey through time within the music of the past decades. It would take a lot of words (and that is never my focus), if I wanted to describe, track by track what goes on Jazz Codes.

There’s a certain laid back atmosphere, especially compared with earlier albums, while her lyrics –which, again, could stand on their own without music- seem to contain less anger. But, have no doubts at all: the music of the album takes a different path, a different approach, but with the same goals. All of the tracks on the album are collaborations and seem to balance between Moor Mother’s lyrical and musical choices and each collaborator’s free will. I’m pretty sure that there’s a little improvisation on this album, but that’s not an issue –improvisation is never a goal, rather a means to an end.

Jazz Codes incorporates everything that a jazz fan might like and, in its kaleidoscopic world, even more.

 Check it out here:




Vasco said...

Nice review. Can you please say something about the album cover? It looks amazing!


Yes, it does, if you buy the vinyl!
It's from painter and sculptor Anthony Molden and, personally, i feel it suits the diversity of the music//

Nick Metzger said...

The cover art is by Anthony Carlos Molden, a gifted mixed media artist and sculptor. All of his work is made from mostly recycled materials including paint & surface. Molden says his goal is "to make something of value out of the piles of refuse around us everyday."