TALES OF KINGS LINER NOTES
by Sandy Thompson
"The songs of Tales of Kings by Neon Egypt are first-take
improvisations. Yet out of the potential for chaos indigenous to such
spontaneity, Harrison Goldberg on soprano, tenor, and alto sax, and Steven
Miller on his resonant, one-of-a-kind Shendai Ceremonial Drums travel a
purposeful, though curvilinear journey. The languid flight of a singular
bird, an ibis perhaps, coursing desert nights from Alexandria to Luxor, then
on to Khartoum and Kampala. The music is the tone poem migration of
sensibilities, as if the Nile could flow through Chicago.
"The album's whole personifies a timeless river tumbling
over ancient stones, or the early a.m. negotiations of a big city's streets,
as if mood indigo resided in civilization's crucible. It possesses azure
meditations, scarlet musings, golden speculations, each aspiring to
discovery in a world of slate gray-green melancholy. It wears textures
velvet to worn corduroy. It exudes an allure of rhythm that manifests the
seduction of danger.
"Goldberg and Miller handle their instruments in a way that
accesses that subconscious place where only competent genius goes. Though
there is a sense of lament on the wilderness they've chosen to traverse,
never are they lost, struggling to find a way back to or out of any
improvisation. There are in Harrison's work rare whiffs of Paul Desmond and
Pharoah Sanders (Nejd) or Joao Gilberto (Triamorous), but never more than a
speculated moment. He never massages any riff for that riff's sake. Miller's
drumming elicits an African-ness, but never succumbs to overt ethnic
references. The stage is theirs equally, as in Night of the Lotus, where
Harrison's harmonic dissonance cruises inside and at half the pace of
Miller's kinetic beat. It is being within non-being: a place where one
senses, even at the end, that the music never stopped."
--Sandy Thompson, Northern California freelance writer and
"One of the best contemporary jazz duos on the web. Extraordinary
drumming. Exotic melodies. Very nice stuff!"
"When I first heard Neon Egypt I was amazed by the sax play, being a sax
player myself. When you listen to Neon Egypt, you find yourself in a bazaar,
in some kind of Egyptian town in the early 1900s, maybe in search of
adventures in the desert, looking for some pyramid someone didn't discover
yet... And just as a pyramid treasure, this music can let you experience
fantastic travel in musical terms: rich jazz elements, and incredible sax
play, well accompanied by another real talent playing the percussions. So, I
couldn't resist and bought it as soon as I found it available on itunes...
:-) Real talent, great sound. I love it!"
--Augusto Chiarle, The
Wimshurst's Machine, Italy
"Listening to Tales Of Kings I
am once again floating down the Nile, the ancient past flowing past. A
farmer dips water into a jar tied to a pole, phrases of Koran are sung from
a tower, boys slap mud into frames to dry as bricks. Sax answers drum,
bounces from the bent overtones, builds reedy structures on the embankments
of sound. Phrases are clipped then looping into lyrical flights.
Echoes of Miles Davis in Spain. At times a deeper drum voice casts a
shadow of disaster to come, rising flood, drying drought. But the cry
of the sax is reborn, it rises like the call of the human spirit, insisting,
like the river, on the ongoing flow of life. This becomes, with the
sinking of the sun, a bit of blues. Your music, like the sphinx, poses
riddles while offering profound answers. Play on."
timeless floating sax over grounded rhythms of drums, Tales of Kings speaks
for the beauty of water and desert- the great Nile: something between the
poetry work of John Surman with the oud player Anouar Brahem (THIMAR, ECM)
and the sacred sound of Alice Coltrane's Ptah the El Daoud..."
"In Purdah" is one of the trippiest songs
I have ever heard...
Your music is amazing.. it really transports me to the middle east."
--Average Joe and the Bloggs
"I was having a horrible day today, I was underslept & incredibly late in my
translation work, & my neighbors had decided to start renovating with a
jackhammer... everything seemed to be going wrong & I hadn't properly worked
for days. I figured maybe I should listen to some music to take me mind off
these things & focus on translating, something with no lyrics so it wouldn't
overly distract me from my work. I love jazz even if I'm hip-hop artist, so
I went on soundclick & searched for jazz bands. I saw yours, & remembered
seeing Passage to Djibouti advertised long ago, so I started playing. &
wow... I haven't stopped since, & it's been hours, literally. I've done more
translation than I ever dreamed of today, & all my worries faded away. It
didn't even feel like I was working... this is some of the most soothing,
masterfully done fusion pieces I ever heard. The spontaneity of them only
adds to the exploit. I've been playing your entire album over & over,
probably for the 7 or 8th time now, & I'm very far from being bored. You
have most DEFINITELY made my day."
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