The Awakening: Dance Tunes (2002)
I am really enjoying life at the moment – mainly as a result of being secure at home and also because I’ve been able to devote time to combing MySpace in search of new and exciting music. Every now and then I find I strike up a conversation with someone who impresses me not only with their fabulous music but also with their sincere approach to life,openness and desire to share what they have discovered about living in the twenty-first century.
One such individual is Frank Stokes who I came to via my friendship with Lou Rone [yes – there’s that name again!… Hiya Lou!] . Not only is Frank pleased to add you as a Friend but is caring enough to check you out every now and then to make sure things are going well in your world. How nice is that?
Anyway Frank is a multi-talented New York musician and composer and is the mainstay of a band known as The Awakening. He draws on his vast curriculum vitae spanning nearly 40 years working with well-known and lesser-known names in rock’n’roll, rock, jazz, funk and various fusions of these; as well as on his Native American Culture to make The Awakening a quite remarkable and unique band, probably unparalleled in the musical world.
Frank has kindly sent me the two albums which he’s put together in the present Millennium and I’m proud to be able to review them so that I can alert you to The Awakening and we can all be ready for new work which I believe is in the pipeline.
I’m not going to run through either album track by track, nor even separate them for quality or content. All I will say is that there is so much variety to be found in them that it’s worth obtaining both - and you really need to do this in order to appreciate the amazing range of brilliant music that The Awakening is capable of. Just to let you know some of the areas visited. Firstly in several places the historic connection with ancient American culture is apparent – sometimes very upfront - at others quite subtly woven into the fabric of a song. Then there is the colourful use of cool jazz rhythms and these often paint scenic pictures of movement through urban landscapes - one can imagine these pieces being used as incidental music in driving sequences of mid-sixties thrillers starring Steve McQueen – I’m sure you know what I mean! Sometimes the jazz is less city based – more suggestive of the hippy Bay Area culture of Charles Lloyd – a sadly neglected musician – who was largely responsible for bringing the rock and jazz worlds into close contact and for nurturing the likes of Jack DeJohnette and Keith Jarrett. Anyway both albums abound in such historic references, while all the time feeling very modern and relevant to today’s very different world. And throughout there are beautifully crafted compelling grooves we find ouselves falling into with an ease that must reflect on the composer’s skill to encapsulate a mood, activity or musical genre.
I feel I could go on indefinitely with this Gonzo stream-of-consciousness rambling but feel I’ve probably said enough to put you into the picture to know whether Frank Stokes and The Awakening are people you have time for. If they are get along to the Frank’s MySpace Page and get involved – I think you’ll soon find yourself hooked. I know I am.