The Squid's Ear Magazine

Anderson, Chad (Anderson / Smith / Stephenson / Amba / Ankhitek): Mellifluous Excursions Vol. 1 - Wh (Mahakala Music)

A solid album of buoyant collective improvisation led by NY drummer Chad Anderson, with vibraphonist Warren Smith adding an optimistic voice to the quintet of relative newcomer, sax and flute player Zoh Amba and bassist Barry Stephenson, the sophisticated and generally upbeat sound of the group taking a stinging tone on two tracks with the sharp observations from The Ankhitek.

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product information:

UPC: 195269164300

Label: Mahakala Music
Catalog ID: MAHA-033
Squidco Product Code: 32050

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Park West Studios, in Brooklyn, New York, on December 14th and 15th, 2021, by Jim Clouse.


Chad Anderson-drums

Warren Smith-vibraphone

Barry Stephenson-bass

Zoh Amba-tenor saxophone, flute

Ankhitek-spoken word

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Drummer, Chad Anderson's latest release, Mellifluous Excursions: Where You At Vol.1, transports the listener through a dynamic set of improvised compositions that weave together aural stories, soundscapes, and spoken word. The music presented on this release celebrates the high-energy, democratic spirit of improvised music, speaks to cultural and political awareness, and showcases a collective, multi-generational unity in sound. Chad Anderson is joined by world-renowned legendary percussionist, Warren Smith (NYC) on vibes, Barry Stephenson (NYC) on bass, Zoh Amba (NYC) on saxophone and flute, and Ankhitek (Washington D.C.) contributing spoken word. From soaring screams, to street swing, with corner-turning funky groove injections, the music on Mellifluous Excursions morphs and blends in the way multiple conversations might be simultaneously overheard at a family reunion. The tracks featuring the spoken word of Ankhitek fluctuate between knowledge points highlighting ancestral roots to cultural and political issues.

Anderson's work can be heard within the Mahakala Music catalog on Lacrimosa (MAHA-05) with Chad Fowler, and on Ivo Perelman's recent release, Magic Dust (MAHA-024), as well as a self-released solo recording from 2020, entitled Wait and See, and his debut release, People Here from 2001. Anderson has also performed and/or recorded with the late Henry P. Warner, Andy McCloud, Cooper-Moore, Douglas Ewart, William Parker, Kidd Jordan, Christopher Parker, Kelley Hurt, Luke Stewart, and many others within the orbit of improvisational music."-Mahakala Music

Artist Biographies

Chad Anderson is a jazz drummer and graphic artist, born in Starkville, Mississippi.

-Chad Anderson Website (

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"Warren Smith (born May 14, 1934) is an American jazz drummer and percussionist, known as a contributor to Max Roach's M'boom ensemble and leader of the Composer's Workshop Ensemble (Strata-East).

Smith was born May 14, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois to a musical family. His father played saxophone and clarinet with Noble Sissle and Jimmie Noone, and his mother was a harpist and pianist. At the age of four he studied studied clarinet with his father. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1957, then received a master's degree in percussion from the Manhattan School of Music in 1958.

One of his earliest major recording dates was with Miles Davis as a vibraphonist in 1957. He found work in Broadway pit bands in 1958, and also played with Gil Evans that year. In 1961 he co-founded the Composers Workshop Ensemble. In the 1960s Smith accompanied Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Lloyd Price, and Nat King Cole; he worked with Sam Rivers from 196476 and with Gil Evans again from 1968 to 1976. In 1969 he played with Janis Joplin and in 1971 with King Curtis and Tony Williams. He was also a founding member of Max Roach's percussion ensemble, M'Boom, in 1970.

In the 1970s and 1980s Smith had a loft called Studio Wis which acted as a performing and recording space for many young New York jazz musicians, such as Wadada Leo Smith and Oliver Lake. Through the 1970s Smith played with Andrew White, Julius Hemphill, Muhal Richard Abrams, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, Count Basie, and Carmen McRae. Other credits include extensive work with rock and pop musicians and time spent with Anthony Braxton, Charles Mingus, Henry Threadgill, Van Morrison, and Joe Zawinul. He continued to work on Broadway into the 1990s, and has performed with a number of classical ensembles.

Smith taught in the New York City public school system from 1958 to 1968, at Third Street Settlement from 1960 to 1967, at Adelphi University in 19701, and at SUNY-Old Westbury from 1971."

-Wikipedia (

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"Barry Stephenson is one of the most promising acoustic and electric bassists on the music scene today.

Born in Florida in 1987, he began playing the electric bass at the age of 14, with the intention to play rock music. In high school, Barry inadvertently joined the jazz band and started taking acoustic bass lessons when he was 17 in order to prepare for college auditions. He attended Florida State University where he studied jazz and classical double bass with Rodney Jordan and Melanie Punter, respectively. While at Florida State, he also studied with legendary pianist Marcus Roberts. Upon graduating, Barry moved to New Orleans and played with many of the city's notable musicians while studying for his Master's degree at the University of New Orleans under the tutelage of Roland Guerin.

In 2011 he joined the Glen David Andrews Band and appeared on several on the band's albums, as well as serving as musical director on the album Redemption.

Barry joined Jon Batiste and Stay Human in 2013 and has since toured the world nonstop. He has performed at a variety of festivals including the Montreaux, Montreal, Newport, North Sea, Monterey, Umbria, and Playboy jazz festivals as well as Bonnaroo and Lallapalooza. In 2014, Jon purchased a tenor banjo for Barry and had him learn to play it within the thirty minutes prior to a performance on NPR.

Barry has been known to lead and compose for bands in various genres of music. In 2011, he was awarded the ASCAP Foundation Louis Armstrong Award followed by the Svenson Composition Award in 2012. Recently, he released his debut jazz album Basic Truths featuring original compositions."

-Barry Stephenson Website (

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"Zoh Amba is a saxophonist from Kingsport, Tennessee who since moving to New York in fall 2021 has quickly emerged into a notable presence in the avant garde scene. Zoh has spent considerable time studying with David Murray in New York, and also at the San Francisco Conservatory Of Music & New England Conservatory. The endorsement and collaboration with the creative music world's most notable sound painters means Zoh is poised to continue her ascent in New York and beyond. She has her debut record O, Sun releasing on Tzadik March 18th, 2022. With Micah Thomas, Thomas Morgan, and Joey Baron. Produced by John Zorn."

-All About Jazz (

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Track Listing:

1. Pillar For Urgency 8:26

2. Spirit Vectors 8:49

3. Revolution/Revelation + Ballad For The Sound Travellers 9:41

4. This And That Before This And That 15:10

5. Short Story Long (Sunrise) 10:07

6. Long Story Short (Moonrise) 6:14

7. Find The Time + Scattered Leaves 10:09

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quintet Recordings
Spoken Word
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers
Top Sellers for 2022 by Customer Sales

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