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Jim Roberts | The Tao of Time

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Babatunde Olatunji/Micky Hart Gil Scott-Heron John Lennon

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United States - North Carolina

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World: World Fusion Spoken Word: With Music Moods: Featuring Drums
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The Tao of Time

by Jim Roberts

If screenwriter Werner Herzog started a band with Gil Scott-Heron narrating, John Lennon's social commentary, the drums of Baba Olatunji/Micky Hart and the big themes of Pink Floyd's concept albums, you would hear this album.
Genre: World: World Fusion
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Captain Time and His Craic Crew
0:47 album only
2. The Passenger Suite, Pts. 1-4: The Passenger, Here, There, Invocation
9:06 $1.99
3. Past Sense
4:32 album only
4. The Voice of Wisdom
0:19 $0.99
5. Universal
5:56 $0.99
6. Spang Spang a Lang
4:36 $0.99
7. Say What?
1:01 album only
8. Drum Language
6:47 $1.99
9. Moral Compass
0:57 album only
10. Inner City Blues
5:27 $0.99
11. Myth and Truth
0:56 album only
12. Soul Power
6:52 $0.99
13. When Will Peace Come
5:49 $0.99
14. Memorial
1:43 $0.99
15. The Voice of a Pilgrim
1:08 FREE
16. All That We Can Be
2:35 $0.99
17. The Isle of Umoja
2:45 $0.99
18. Creators
1:46 $0.99
19. The Tao of Time
8:47 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Percussionist Jim Roberts leads the listener through eons with Captain Time as the provocateur. The concept of time is explored as universal time, earth time, life/death cycles, and the rhythms of time. The central theme of The Tao of Time is presented in "Universal" as the big picture vs the small picture which humanity embraces.

Roberts’s bigger vision unfolds over the course of interlocking vignettes guided by raucous time-traveling seafarers, Captain Time and his Craic crew; clever covers (Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” along with set of variations on its themes); and original pieces tackling war and peace, past and future, life and death, and the nature of the universe. Though Roberts urges listeners to engage with the darker side of existence on pieces like “Soul Power ” and “When Will Peace Come,” the destination is ultimately hopeful and forward looking, as the words and sounds ask us to be “All That We Can Be.”

Throughout this arc run the drums, rhythms, and grooves that have inspired Roberts since childhood, when his obsession with drumming first came to light. Along with percussion training, he also studied with master djembe player Khalid Saleem and played with the Chuck Davis African-American Dance Ensemble (Davis gets a futuristic homage on “The Island of Ujoma”). He studied Afro-Cuban percussion with Steve Bloom, as well as dedicating himself to understanding Brazilian rhythms and instruments. He toured great swaths of the country and recorded on three albums with GRAMMY-winning bassist Victor Wooten, who narrates “The Voice of Wisdom” and appears on Roberts’ Ancient Hand album.

Roberts brings this extensive experience to bear on tracks like “Drum Language,” that showcase the many inflections and ideas drums and rhythms can convey. “Drums were one of the first instruments,” explains Roberts. “This idea of drum languages is that drums can be used for communication, to say whole paragraphs, particularly in Nigeria. ‘Drum Language’ is about the combination of these instruments to create one voice.”

This voice speaks of other possibilities, suggesting how we might work to build peace: “The drums’ connection with language and communication is a key thing in the development of humankind,” Roberts reflects.

The drums were often the first instrument tracked in the studio as in “Drum Language” and “Spang Spang A Lang”. “Others including the ‘The Passenger’ (part 1) were tracked with acoustic guitar first,” Roberts notes. “The soukous section, ‘Here’ (part 2) was a click track and with the bass grooving on the chord changes. The beginnings were really bare bones compared to what it became.”

In addition to the drums, Roberts has executed a great deal of the Tao himself, playing a range of instruments (including the kalimba that draws together several of the tracks) and producing and engineering the album. “I recorded the whole record, edited it, and wore a lot of hats. I created everything layer by layer,” he notes. “I had to figure out first off what was the big picture of the pieces. And it all had to flow. I played using an intuitive sense of when something had to change if I was uncertain.”

That sense proved crucial guidance for the genre-agnostic, philosophically ambitious project. “I wanted everything to come together, the spoken word, the music, the lyrics, the narrative,” Roberts says. “The album was designed so that you would discover something new in each listen, sonically, lyrically and musically. It is a thickly painted canvas complete with double entendre, mysticism and innuendo, as well as some pretty clear and blunt statements.”

These statements are big, getting at the fiber of our shared experience as humans. The album’s electronic-inflected title track gathers the many threads, inspired by the sorrow Roberts felt when a friend lost his infant son. “‘Tao of Time’ is about the cycles of life. “I wrote it while thinking about what my friend was going through, while watching the water on the Pamlico River. I realized that there were eons of time before me, just like music. It will be here long after I leave.” That is the wisdom Roberts has found in time--and one way he hopes will bring more people to the universal nature of peace and awareness.



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