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Kombu Combo | Descent

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Jazz: Jazz Fusion Jazz: World Fusion Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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by Kombu Combo

Fuse original jazz compositions with world music from Brazil, Latin America, Afro-Cuba and India. The result? Everything from dark, menacing works to light, bright sambas.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Fusion
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Section 4
11:39 $1.25
2. Princess Jovana's Last Dance
3:38 $1.25
3. Dark Continent
11:45 $1.25
4. Descent
6:44 $1.25
5. Sam Meets James
10:04 $1.25
6. Filthy McNasty
6:58 $1.25
7. Brazilian Waxx
8:02 $1.25
8. Autumn Leaves
6:10 $1.25
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
About the Band:

Take a fiery, intense drummer, mix with uncompromising sax, guitar, bass and vibes musicians, infuse with world music from Brazil, Latin America, Afro-Cuba and India, and allow free-flowing original composition – that’s the essence of Kombu Combo. The compositions on these tracks ranges from dark, menacing works that take influence from African rhythms, to bright, light Samba styles that conjure up Brazilian street parties.

Music Notes

1. Princess Jovana’s Last Dance (Composer Norm Dorrell)
“Princess Jovanna's Last Dance” is a funky hip hop groove with the unison
melody played by the sax and vibes. A short bridge in 5/4 time leads to the solos by guitar, sax, vibes and bass. The song title is taken from ancient Camdenonian fairy tale. Princess Jovanna was the only daughter of Josepha, the King of Camdenonia. When King Josepha was taken hostage by evil rivals Princess Jovanna presented herself to his captors pleading with them to let her dance for them in exchange for his release. So enamored were they by her beauty and dancing that they immediately released King Josepha but kept Jovanna as a slave to dance for their pleasure. Jovanna refused, saying she would rather die than ever dance for them again. Unfortunately she took her own life in her cell just moments before her father’s army arrived to rescue her.

2. Dark Continent (Composer Norm Dorrell)
Dark Continent” originally was written in one consistent Afro 12/8 time feel.
When I presented it to Kombu Combo I quickly realized the potential to explore multiple rhythmic possibilities and moods within the song. The track features many exotic percussion sounds to help define the mood of each section. I rewrote the opening melody to be played over a powerful bass/guitar ostinato driven by a frenetic rock fusion groove. This is followed by a short hard swinging bridge. The opening melody and ostinato
return briefly before paving the way for the vibes solo and an open drum solo. The groove changes yet again to the original afro 12/8 feel with a descending F minor chord progression for the sax and guitar solos. The song finishes with a restatement of the opening melodies and ostinato. Overall “Dark Continent” is a collection of mood pictures inspired by the rhythms and sounds of Africa with each soloist creating a song within the song.

3. Descent and Section 4 (Composer Sean Holz)
Perhaps the instrument associated most with contemporary music is the guitar. To find a singular voice as an instrumentalist and composer takes a great deal of effort. Sean Holz is well on his way. Not bound, in this instance, by what might be considered ‘conventional’ harmonic function, his compositions, “Section 4” in particular, follows his own muse. This piece is both challenging and refreshing to play. The tension built by the meter change in the second section is exquisite. As much as we are able to know what another person is thinking. This is a genuine pleasure to perform.

4. Sam Meets James (Composer Bob Colligan)
Sam meets James was written in the summer of 2000 shortly after the birth of my second son Samuel Anthony Colligan. I was overwhelmed seeing my oldest son James Alexander Colligan hold my youngest son in his arms that I was compelled to write the melody of the song. It was completed in just a few hours at the piano. I returned to it later and composed the solo changes which are the same as the melody with one extra bar. Then I wrote the outro of the tune which is just a descend chord change ending on B major7 chord. The title itself is homage to the great jazz album Bags meets Wes.

5. Filthy McNasty (Notes Frank McKitty)
Before leaving New York, I had the opportunity to play a good deal of Horace Silver’s work from the Blue Note period in an octet setting. He has, in my experience, provided so many really hip, yet often overlooked, pieces to the jazz repertoire. While trying to come up with some tunes that might work well with this group on Bari, I came across a recording of Ronnie Cuber playing Horace Silver’s “Filthy McNasty”. ‘That’s it!”, I thought. It’s loads of fun to play, and, thanks to John and the Combo, never loses sight of the need to remain danceable.

6. Brazilian Waxx (Composer Norm Dorrell)
“Brazilian Waxx” was brought to life after a day on the beach while I was on vacation. I noticed a group of attractive young women dancing to samba music and having fun on the beach a few yards away. Memories of the sun, the blue water, the beautiful day and of course the attractive young women inspired me to write the cheerful melody for sax and marimba. As I attempted to capture the spirit of that fun memory in music I realized that what I thought was going to be a melody in 2/4 time actually flowed better in 3/4 time. I adjusted a few parts of the melody then wrote a "suggested" feel for the rhythm section and with that “Bazilian Waxx” was born. I hope all who listen to it get visions of being on a beautiful beach on a perfect day with people around them having fun! Enjoy!

7. Autumn Leaves (Notes Frank McKitty)
This song first appeared in the 1946 film by Marcel Carne. The melody was composed by the Hungarian composer Joseph Cosma. Jazz instrumental versions were recorded by Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Keith Jarrett, Art Pepper, Stan Getz and many others. Jazz musicians have been adapting songs from films, musicals, and television shows for performance since these types of media first appeared. “Autumn Leaves” seems to have transcended the definition of a Jazz standard because it tops the list of songs familiar to jazz musicians. The one thing that is different about this version is the device known as a pedal point. This harkens back to the days when organists would play long low held notes with the bass pedals while playing a plethora of notes with their hands. The bass pedal appears in every other chorus so it doesn’t become tiresome.

Listening to a Kombu Combo Performance:
My experience with jazz music began by listening to recordings of the great jazz masters. I soon realized that this music described to me by friends as music without boundaries or limitations had a surprising amount of rules governing its formal structure. This realization stems from the fact that any group of instrumentalists who attempt to form an ensemble of any kind must have a system in place to regulate the formal structure.

The system that is used by Kombu Combo can be likened to a sandwich. The bread represents the “melody” or, as we call it, “the head” of the song. We play the head once at the beginning and once at the end. The filling of the sandwich represents the improvisation or the solos in the middle of the song. Kombu Combo will take turns improvising over the chord progression of the song or some other progression which is predetermined.

This system is quite old. Miles Davis was asked on camera about this type of system and in a scratchy voice he said, “That’s some old shit”. He was referring to the practice of musicians, each in turn, stepping up to the microphone and playing a solo. Kombu Combo is currently revising this system by the use of musical cues, trading choruses, reversing the head and solos within the song and, many other ways to bring about freshness and creativity.

The things to look for in a Kombu Combo performance are the full ensemble sections which will include the “head” of each song and the solos. Usually, there is more than one person playing the head. Often, the head is very short like a sandwich on thin rye bread. The head can also be lengthy like a hoagie roll. We also include what are called “Outros” to songs. In this case, the song can end with a section of improvisation rather than the head of the song. None of these devices are new but we rehearse and constantly revise and invent new performance practices to go with our new songs.

The solos during the song are the bulk of the musical sandwich. During the solos we hear the best efforts of the soloist pouring out his soul to the listener. Good solos begin with a few notes and then build slowly to some kind peak intensity before proceeding to the next soloist. The boundaries that were mentioned earlier are often crossed during the solos but not always. Many things about music are surprising and mysterious. The best way to get into the zone is to stop thinking. Forget there is an audience. Forget even where you are or what time it is. There is no way of manufacturing this “zone”. It feels surprising when it happens and thinking about it can pull you out of it. All soloists experience this differently and I can only say with certainty how it is for me. Sometimes, if I just listen to the other members of Kombu Combo while I am playing, the “zone” will appear. As I stated earlier, my experience in jazz begins by listening.

Thanks for listening and for supporting jazz as an art.
Best, Bob Colligan, Bassist for Kombu Combo



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