Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Native Speaker (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 50:42 minutes | 640 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Odradek Records
‘Native Speaker’ is the eighth album by bassist Mark Saltman and pianist William Knowles, who together compose and arrange new music for their jazz quintet SaltmanKnowles.
The concept of ‘Native Speaker’ is to celebrate the African American artform of jazz and to present a manifesto of inclusion that is needed more urgently than ever. As the duo puts it in the album booklet: “whether you are a ‘Native Speaker’ of my language or not, you’re welcome here. You’re welcome in my country, my land, my music, my clothes, my home, our dreams and in our art. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Based in Washington, DC, the SaltmanKnowles ensemble plays a combination of primarily original music and standards, as well as original arrangements of a few pop tunes. On ‘Native Speaker’ we hear their interpretations of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Eurythmics and ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ by Tears for Fears. These are heard alongside original numbers by Saltman and Knowles. From Saltman we hear ‘Dororo’, inspired by Japanese anim; ‘Lotus’ and ‘Frog’ based on the lotus, the Chinese symbol for renewal, and the observant frog that sits nearby; and ‘The Gentle Art of Compassion’, a call for sensitivity to others. Knowles offers tributes to two of his favourite people: ‘Nate’s Advice’ was given over leisurely drinks at a cabaret bar, and ‘Ruben’ is about one of Knowles’s most admired Black heroes, his brother. The album’s eponymous track is also by Knowles and is a blues number that presents a philosophical pathway through life’s many ups and downs.
Saltman and Knowles have recorded and released seven original jazz albums together over the past 20 years. Originally known as Soulservice, they now record as SaltmanKnowles. Their most recent release ‘Almost’ peaked at No. 23 on the jazz charts. Together they have spent time as Artists-in-Residence for the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, received two grants from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities, and won the Best International Jazz Song Award in 2007 from Toronto Exclusive Magazine. Their fifth release, ‘Return of the Composer’, was in the top ten on the Jazz World Week Radio Chart. Knowles and Saltman met while attending the composition programme at the University of Massachusetts, and their shared affection for the music of Billy Strayhorn, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton and Charles Mingus led to their musical relationship.
01. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Dororo (05:44)
02. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Nate’s Advice (06:43)
03. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Space Oddity (Major Tom) (04:57)
04. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Native Speaker (06:26)
05. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Everybody Wants to Rule the World (04:18)
06. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Lotus and Frog (05:51)
07. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Sweet Dreams (04:19)
08. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – Ruben (07:07)
09. Mark Saltman & William Knowles – The Gentle Art of Compassion (05:14)