Trust (Musicians for World Harmony, 2012)
Renowned Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Samite develops new East African instrumental music on his latest CD, titled Trust. For this project, Samite decided to focus on the melodic traditions of East Africa, leaving drums and percussion out.
“We wanted to stay away from drums and percussion on this album,” says Samite, “and to get people to hear other parts of African music. We wanted to take out the drums, yet still retain the music’s power and the ability to make people dance. To make it beautiful and deep.”
Beautiful indeed. On Trust , Samite skillfully blends Uganda’s Bakisimba rhythm, reggae, jazz, call and response techniques and other influences.
The pieces are part of the soundtrack of the documentary Addiction Incorporated by director Charles Evans, Jr. Evans, South African guitarist and dear friend Tony Cedras (Paul Simon), and Samite recorded the tracks at Daddy’s House Recording Studios, P Diddy’s studio in New York, asking other musicians to play the parts Samite usually performed himself. “We made most decisions between the three of us. It was the most democratic working environment ever,” Samite says. “This made me discover myself in a different way. I didn’t have to play it all myself,” Samite recalls. “We were behind the glass, on the other side of the screen, giving musicians ideas and direction about what to play, until we got emotional satisfaction.”
Trust features Samite’s familiar flute melodies and kalimba (thumb piano) as well as guitars, cello, brass, bass, accordion, and other instruments. In addition to Cedras, guests include cellist Elizabeth Simkin, guitarist David Cullen, flutist Arron Heicktra, saxophonist Morris Goldberg, trumpeter Todd Holton, South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo and Cameroonian bassist Fred Doumbe. “The musicians would play what we’d written, our rough key ideas, then they’d go where they wanted with our guidance,” Samite describes.
All proceeds from Trust will go to Musicians for World Harmony, a non-profit enterprise to bring healing to people exiled and devastated by conflict through music performance and music therapy. “People are now facing things they’ve never faced in the past, like kids who have been forced to killed their own parents and relatives,” Samite relates. “Music can help these children, but how do you approach it? We are both reminding people to use their culture for therapy, and in some cases, to learn from people trained in Western music therapy.”
“On a recent trip to a huge refugee camp in Mubende, Uganda, we brought in twenty musicians with drums and dancers on a pickup truck,” Samite smiles. “People started running toward us, jumping, clapping, and dancing. At least then, for five hours, they forgot about their problems. I know what it means to sing and dance when you’ve had to face so many bad memories. It’s so important.”
Trust is an exquisite melodic album of contemporary East African music. Get it for the great music and for its worthy cause.
Buy the album at trustcd.org