Word-Beat TT1606

The Soul Dances is a densely layered poly-rhythmic percussion jam with narration of inspirational wisdom nuggets, gospelized solo vocals and accompanying horns for textures. Fusion ace Tom Teasley is the man in the engine room of percussive noise makers. Louisiana-born Charles Williams with the voice/theater seat at the Levine School of Music in Washington mans the solo vocals.

The Soul Dances is meant to be danced to and played back loud. Biblical fervor, African juju chants and Tibetan shamans battling demons mix it up with driving grooves, euphonium, didgeridoo, trombone and tenor sax. This is a real workout that liberally borrows from swamp gospel, Yoruban folk song, Whirling Dervish zikr and equivalent global influences. Talking drums, djembe, cajon and African marimba mix it up with "Hevenu Shalon Alejchem" juxtaposed against "La Ilaha Illallah". South African jive and Ghanian high life meet baritone Baptist preacher. A hip-hop beat anchored by Teasley students on djembe and shakers becomes the foundation for "Harriet Tubman" written by Washington DC poet Eloise Greenfield.

Aphorisms like "silence is also speech", "you have three friends in this world - courage, friends and wisdom", "one falsehood spoils a thousand truths", "it is better to be loved than feared" and "wisdom does not live in only one house" tie together the rolling thunder of "Balafon" and its eerily shifting fog of askew horns. There's traditional African call'n'response work and Hassidic stylings of a baritone preacher leading the choir. In short, this album is a participatory invite to rattle and shake the pelvis, stomp the feet and have a party. Except for the last track which sports some subtle studio trickery, the other eight numbers use straight-ahead multi-tracking to graft layer upon layer of rhythmic mayhem on the core groove. This is action music for parties and workouts. It also requires dynamic fortitude from your audio system if kicked into gear the way it's meant to. Prime the pump and laissez les bontemps roulez.