«Gris Gris» is a Voodoo amulet originating in Africa, believed to protect the wearer from evil or brings luck. «Gris Gris» is also the third, double album of Austrian septet Shake Stew that takes the magical and hypnotic Afro-beat into an intense and sensual intergalactic journey.
Shake Stew, led by bass player and composer Lukas Kranzelbinder, enjoys an unusual configuration of 2 drummers, 2 bass players – who alternate between the double basses and electric basses and Kranzelbinder also adds the Moroccan bass lute, Guembri – and 3 horn player, including the brilliant trumpeter Mario Rom. This instrumentation Enable Shake Stew to suggest energetic and layered rhythmic patterns (check the powerful «Keep Walkin»), intensified by the horn players complex and nuanced textures.
«Gris Gris» begins with a steaming live recording of «I Can Feel The Heat Closing In», captured on JazzFest Bonn on May 2019, reaffirming the explosive, passionate spirit of Shake Stew live performances and its unique kind of infectious, percolating rhythmic waves. The other pieces were recorded at Attoria Musica, Osnabrück, Germany, a month earlier. These pieces allow Shake Stew to offer more insights into their imaginative versions of the intergalactic Afro-beat. These pieces are woven into each other as a colorful, cinematic suite-like story, full of surprising, arresting detours.
You can feel how the voodoo «Gris Gris» potion does its work on the swinging, trance-like groove of «No More Silence», the seductive-enigmatic «So He Spoke» or the magnificent, 19-minutes first single from this album, «Grilling Crickets in a Straw Hut», with German guitarist Tobias Hoffmann who adds cyclical West-African lines and beautiful flute solos of Johannes Schleiermache on the flute. The soothing, breezy «Like Water Falling Down With A Thousand Spirits» is a great conclusion for this spiritual journey.
You gotta trust that «Gris Gris» voodoo thing. The sooner you surrender the better.
Lukas Kranzelbinder (b, guembri, shaker), Mario Rom (tp), Johannes Schleiermacher (ts, fl), Clemens Salesny (as, stritch, opera gong, flextone), Oliver Potratz (b, shaker), Mathias Koch (dr, perc), Niki Dolp (dr, perc, Thai Gongs), Tobias Hoffmann (g)