It’s a fresh recipe with ancient ingredients. The sweet music of the soul. It’s the sound of Bolo, who make the connections between different cultures and traditions and forge them into something new, still wearing the honor of the past, but also with the ripe taste of the future. What they’ve created shines out on their self-titled debut album, (released June 25, 2015). With all three members highly schooled in many styles of music, from jazz and soul to West African, North African and Indian, it’s the unique chemistry of the trio that’s set them exploring this untrodden path.
“From the time we first played together we knew we had the same approach in terms of trusting the groove,” explains Eliyahu Sills who plays upright bass, and Middle Eastern and Indian flutes. “We don’t feel we need to get our egos involved – we take turns in the lead with the others supporting.”
It’s music that takes its ethos from jazz and funk as well as from older sounds, truly collaborative acoustic music that can spiral and swoop and sometimes just forge its way ahead.
Multi-instrumentalist Evan Fraser had already been involved in many successful global music projects before he met Sills on stage at Burning Man. Soon he was playing on the CD by Eliyahu & The Qadim Ensemble, which reached #7 on Billboard’s World Music charts. Surya Prakasha, a highly sought after drummer in the Bay Area jazz scene, was already an occasional bandmate with Sills. When they finally played all together, it was magic.
The music they made felt right, completely natural, a meeting of minds. And so Bolo was born. In the two years since then they’ve been gigging, rehearsing, and refining their sound. They’ve experimented with different styles, using Fraser’s kamele ngoni harps like a Moroccan bass gimbri, for instance, or playing the kalimba (thumb piano) with Prakasha’s drum kit or harmonium to create moods and change the flow of a piece. All they’ve learned and developed is on Bolo. It’s jazz that draws its heartbeat from the world. All three members are multi-instrumentalists (11 between them) and sing, often switching instruments in the course of a single piece to change the texture and color of the music, both in performance and on CD. Bass can give way to bansuri, drums to harmonium, from instruments to voice, delving deeper into the heart of a melody until they sound like a much larger ensemble.
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