A few days ago, I posted a link to a Nicole Mitchell live performance from NPR’s JazzSet series. With that set still fresh in my mind, I went down to my basement and blew the dust of the big plastic bin containing the few remaining CD’s that I haven’t been able to part with to try to pick something out for my ride into work . Right on top of the messy scattered lot sat Continuum by Reminder (Joshua Abrams). This is Abrams’ first release under the name Reminder which is his downtempo/hip-hop/jazzy/electronic production project. Abrams plays bass on the Nicole Mitchell performance as well as on her newest release, Aquarius (2013 Delmark). So I felt like Continnum would be the perfect soundtrack for my commute.
Continuum was released in 2006 on the Eastern Developments Music label. For a few years in the mid 00’s I was really into production from the likes of DJ Shadow, RJD2, Madlib, Bonobo, Scotty Hard, etc. I knew very little about Josh Abrams at the time other than he was a bass player in the Chicago jazz scene and that he was the original bass player in The Roots. But I had heard a few tracks from this disc and based upon the eclectic sample-infused production style mixed with live instrumentation, I needed to check it out. The album features a few guests on occasion including Nicole Mitchell on flute, Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217, etc.) on guitar, and Tyondai Braxton, son of musician/composer Anthony Braxton, on vocals.
Since then, I’ve heard Abrams’ bass work on several releases including one of his own entitled, Natural Information from 2010 on Eremite Records. On this vinyl- only release, Abrams plays the guimbri, a three-stringed animal hide bass traditionally used by the Gnawa of North Africa in healing ceremonies, among several other percussive instruments. Natural Information also features Chicago jazz musicians, Jason Adasiewicz, and Frank Rosaly. Here is a video of Abrams playing the guimbri. Enjoy!