Alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester and singer Nora McCarthy have been collaborating musically for at least 12 years, and their collaboration continues to yield excellent results on Spirit Driven. This two-CD set (which contains about 87 minutes worth of music) underscores the unpredictable, risk-taking nature of the Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective, which includes not only Sylvester and McCarthy, but also, trumpeter Waldron Mahdi Ricks, pianist Pablo Vergara, electric bassist Donald Nicks and drummer Kenny Grohowski. The music ranges from avant-garde jazz to post-bop, and Sylvester’s alto playing is soulful, heartfelt and convincing whether he is playing inside or outside. …
It’s easy to understand why this double-disc is titled Spirit Driven: the ACE Collective’s performances have a very spiritual quality. That spiritual outlook is as evident on “Cycle of Life,” “Masouc” and “Obeahman” as it is on “The Light of Truth’s High Noon Is Not For Tender Leaves.” The latter has a spirituality that recalls the late Abbey Lincoln, and McCarthy really soars with that Lincoln-ish mood.
“Remember Haiti,” one of the more avant garde offerings on Spirit Driven, is a gem. Sylvester and McCarthy wrote that piece in remembrance of the victims of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti in January 2010, and McCarthy expresses herself with a combination of spoken word poetry and wordless scatting. …
Spirit Driven is yet another rewarding collaboration from Sylvester and McCarthy.
— Jazz Inside Magazine, October 2013
The Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective is “an all-star jazz band that knows how to swing, to improvise with spontaneity and poise, and to respond to one another with telepathic immediacy and profound respect. Their new double CD release Spirit Driven, on foUR Records TM, is the result of a lifetime of spirit driven preparation by each musician – Jorge Sylvester: brilliant composer and arranger, virtuoso alto saxophonist; Nora McCarthy: daringly original, versatile, and fearlessly honest singer, composer, and poet. Waldron Mahdi Ricks: impeccably artful trumpet player, a jazz master in his own right; Pablo Vergara: astoundingly imaginative pianist, musically fluent on an encyclopedic, global scale; Donald Nicks: journeyman artisan of the bass, unfailingly, and always tastefully, providing the musical foundation; Kenny Grohowski: uncannily precise and inventive drummer and percussionist.” Spirit Driven, the group’s first recording, is a highly rhythmic and spiritually motivated compositional journey through the various cultures that make up the Caribbean Islands encompassing their significance and contribution to the present day advanced musical concepts in jazz and avant-garde/free music. It uses the “word” in the form of poetry and lyrics to convey each song’s spiritual and historical message.
“The music continuously flows and develops with a lithe bodily grace and expressive range, transfiguring its structural complexity and technical virtuosity into an intimate and honest gesture of oneness with each listener, only possible by virtue of consummate musicianship.” — Ramsy Ameen
- Construction No. 2
- Pauline’s Prayer
- The Light of Truth’s High Noon Is Not for Tender Leaves
- Construction No. 1
- To Be with You
- Remember Haiti
- Cycle of Life
Jorge Sylvester, electric saxophonesNora McCarthy, voice • Waldron Madhi Ricks, trumpet • Pablo Vergara, piano • Donald Nicks, electric bass • Kenny Grohowski, drums
Released under license from Jorge Sylvester