Neill Solomon and Dan Chiorboli, along with their bigger world music mash-up called Uptown Rhythm Collective, are without question the busiest, most productive and prolific group around!
Not only did the group deliver a critically acclaimed debut album titled Different Places this past April, the ever-evolving crew are on the brink of releasing another two more brand new works consecutively!
“The first of the two [albums] is effectively a film score,” Neill reveals. All ambient classical soundscapes relating to much of Neill’s film scores, each filled with influence and arrangements that extend all the way to the Indian subcontinent and back. Titled When Shadows Fall, the album includes the single “You’ll Never Know” which features guest appearances by Wendy Oldfield and the great Indian Sufi singer Keeran Eshwarlall on lead vocals. “To me it is Paris Texas meets Brian Eno, with a touch of Eastern mysticism”, says Dan. Built around music made by Neill and Dan together with the legendary Australian bow player Colin Offord, Sufi vocalist, santoor and harmonium player Keeran Eshwarlall, tabla virtuoso Vishan Ramlakkan, electric violinist Waldo Luc Alexander, trombone player and vocalist Siya Makuzeni and the ever present Mauritz Lotz, each track’s weighted in brilliant musicianship. Mauritz also lays claim to not only arranging and playing, but also producing and mixing the album too.
The second compilation, titled Ashes and Sand is completely different, and plays out, “in a very African way,” Neill explains. “These are collaborations rooted in the African diaspora and Indian Ocean Islands,” Dan adds. “It’s also a homage to some of our greatest fallen legends, the likes of Gito Baloi, Shaluza Max Mntambo, Miriam Makeba and Jabu Khanyile.” What makes this album all the more special is the fact that it includes special performances from each of the dearly departed.
Reunion native and maloya superstar Christine Salem contributes Maloya Gris Gris, and Gamaku from the Ivory Coast perform on Dan’s “The Singing River” – an African percussion tribute to the influence that the Muscle Shoals sound in Alabama has had on both Neill and Dan’s musical outlook. Ray Phiri, Guinean kora legend N’Faly Kouyate (who played on Different Places) and Ladysmith Black Mambazo add even more gravitas to what’s already an extraordinary musical statement, filled to overflowing with talent known and loved the world over.
Upon reflection since Uptown Rhythm Collective delivered Different Places, an album Kaya FM’s Nicky Blumenfeld endorsed, making it Album of the Week and calling it; ‘Afro-global-lounge at its most exotic. A brilliant album,’ Dan knew that what they’d created then was worthy. “we knew it was a really good album with a unique identity,” Chiorboli confirms. “The fact that it was so well received has fuelled and spurred us on to keep feeding it, both from a recording level and also from invitations and demands to play live.”
From what started out as a loose, project-driven combination of diverse talents, the Uptown Rhythm Collective has evolved into a chart-teasing, world-embracing music machine realising great music faster and more impressively that they’re even battling to keep up with themselves!
With all of the new releases produced, once again, by guitar legend and friend Mauritz Lotz, his work and the relationship won while making Different Places, enhances both When Shadows Fall and Ashes and Sand. All benefit from special friendships and ambitious relationships, all to the collective good of all. “We’re hoping to create a three-CD digipak, with all three albums, and have it ready by the time we go on tour ” Dan reveals.
Often playing with as many as nine musicians, the Uptown Rhythm Collective doesn’t travel light. That said, fans can rest assured that when they set up for a show there’s nothing trivial about it. “When we do a live performance it’s a production well worth committing to,” Dan, the Uptown Rhythm Dogs and Uptown Rhythm Collective co-founder confirms.
With the weight and wealth of work in hand, the Uptown Rhythm Collective’s pièce de résistance will rally together over the Christmas season for at least four shows, enabling fans of home-grown African and world music to have the opportunity to see and hear material from all three albums performed live.
The Uptown Rhythm Collective in live performance during the Christmas period 2015, will include:
Neill Solomon – vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitar
Dan Chiorboli – percussion
Mauritz Lotz – musical director and guitar
N’Faly Kouyate – vocals and kora
Waldo Luc Alexander – electric violin
Siya Makuzeni – vocals and trombone
Keeran Eshwarlall – vocals, santoor & harmonium