Omnivorous hardly begins to describe the polyphonic raptures of the self-appointed “folklorkestra” TriBeCaStan. Led by multi-instrumentalists John Kruth and Jeff Greene, the New York-based ensemble sounds like an international jazz and folk festival unto itself, fusing Balkan, Middle Eastern, Indian, Latin American and African musical elements to bold and dazzling effect on its new album, “New Deli.”
A shuffling take of “Freaks for the Festival,” written by jazz avant-gardist Rahsaan Roland Kirk (his biography was authored by TriBeCaStan frontman Kruth), turns on a wailing blues harmonica and percussive banjo. “A Crack in the Clouds,” a ruminative blues featuring gorgeous mandolin accents and bamboo flute, evokes the dirgelike rhythms that open a traditional New Orleans funeral march — or, for that matter, the mystagogic brooding of “Veedon Fleece”-era Van Morrison.
“Song for Kroncha” goes from lyrical frolicking to skronking free jazz, while “Louie’s Luau” re-imagines a gypsy shuffle for banjo and jew’s-harp, and “Jovanka” colors sultry tango rhythms with growling baritone sax. The lurching “Daddy Barracuda,” meanwhile, suggests a Bosnian slow-drag boogie built around chuffing harmonica, disembodied vocals and slashing slide guitar.
TriBeCaStan’s members have played with everyone from James Brown to the Meat Puppets and Ornette Coleman, and it shows. Coleman’s “Two for Ornette (Dee Dee/Theme From a Symphony)” even gets a sprightly, mandolin- and trombone-led treatment here. All of which is to say that there’s no whiff of globe-trotting musical dilettantism on TriBeCaStan’s record, but rather, as the presence of master musicians from India, Morocco and Austria attests, something much more deeply felt and inspired.
“Jovanka,” “Daddy Barracuda,”
“A Crack in the Clouds”