All My Relations
All My Relations
Cochemea Gastelum is coming home to connect with his roots. After nearly 15 years of touring the world with Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, the saxophonist offers a deeply personal album of jazz and indigenous-influenced rhythms. All My Relations, out on Daptone Records, is 10 tracks of mesmerizing and spiritually ascendant instrumentation. Originally conceived during Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ final year of touring, Cochemea and Daptone’s Gabe Roth cast a varied but familial set of New York musicians to bring All My Relations to life. A large portion of the album was created through improvisation and collective writing, where its 10 musicians created a melodic, percussive conversation. “It was a beautiful experience – people would start playing and we’d work up these arrangements on the spot, then record it.” The album begins with an invocation and plays like a story– from “Sonora" (the home of his Yaqui ancestors ) to the Mexican huapango rhythms in “Mescalero” and “Song of Happiness,” which is partly derived from a Navajo melody, Shii’ Naasha.’ The track “Asatoma" is an ancient prayer from India. In Sanskrit, it prays for guidance to grow from darkness to light, to distinguish the real from the unreal, and to be guided from death of the physical to the immortality of the Spirit. As a body of work, it is an acknowledgement of oneness and harmony with all forms of life: people animals, insects, plants. It is a celebration of life.
Vol 2: Baca Sewa
Vol 2: Baca Sewa
The Dap-Kings' electro-sax space warrior returns with a groove-heavy sequel to All My Relations, Vol. II: Baca Sewa. Drawing on ancestral memories and family histories to wrap new flesh around the bones of history, this album is a bold, semi-autobiographical work that leads us deeper into the annals of family histories, mythology and the cultural imaginary. “Baca Sewa” is Cochemea’s original family name prior to colonization. The melody was composed by cousin Anthony Gastelum and features vocals and drumming by the Baca Sewa Singers- a group composed of several generations of family members. The album runs thick with sonic tributes and remembrances. “Chito’s Song” is a contemplative, ethereal tribute to a beloved uncle. “Curandera” conjures the memory of the irrepressible healing power of medicine women. “Black Pearl” recalls his great grandfather, heir to a legacy of indigenous peoples enslaved as pearl divers in the Sea of Cortez. Leading a 7-piece ensemble composed of New York’s top percussionists and members of Daptone’s rhythm section, Cochemea has created his own world of emotional textures and rhythmic possibilities, a musical and spiritual synthesis made possible through his deep reverence of the horn and the music and traditions preceding him. Vol II: Baca Sewa - is an offering and continuation of Cochemea’s explorations, part of a musical process of reclamation and healing through connection, relations, memory and imagination.
Song of Happiness / Stranded in Space 45
Song of Happiness/Stranded in Space 45
Recorded entirely in his humble bedroom studio, Cochemea Gastelum masterfully blends the drum-machine laden soul-explorations of artists like Shuggie Otis and Sly Stone, with the avant-garde, electric sax permutations of Eddie Harris.
Cochemea Gastelum is a musical journeyman who draws on ancestral memories and family histories to wrap new flesh around the bones of history.
In his 2019 Daptone debut All My Relations he combined musical inspirations from his Yaqui/Yoeme indigenous heritage with musical chops honed performing with the world’s premier soul/funk and jazz artists to present an exquisite meditation on the interconnection of all things. His 2021 follow-up, Vol II: Baca Sewa is a bold, semi-autobiographical work that leads us deeper into the archives of family history, mythology and the cultural imaginary.
Cochemea’s musical and spiritual synthesis is made possible through his deep reverence of the horn and of the music and traditions preceding him. He follows in the lineage of reed players who combine dexterity with inventiveness, creating expressive textures that make the horn sing in altogether new ways. Inspired by heroes like Eddie Harris, Yusef Lateef, Jim Pepper and Gary Bartz before him, Cochemea coaxes the flute and electric alto saxophone to forge his own joyous, melancholy, contemplative signature sound.
All My Relations was a family reunion of sorts, conjoining spirits, musicians, melodies and rhythms from his various worlds to define a contemplative, lyrical, and always funk-laced musical vision. Leading a nine-piece ensemble composed of New York’s top percussionists and members of Daptone’s rhythm section, Cochemea recombined ancient elements of drums, winds, and voice, creating his own world of emotional textures and rhythmic possibilities.
Critics and deejays received All My Relations with praise. To Cool Hunting, it was a “transcendent jazz experience.” Pitchfork wrote: “equal parts spiritual journey and irrepressible funk,” while Mojo gave the album four stars, noting, “the message of harmony and one-ness...is universal.”
The new album - Vol II: Baca Sewa - is a continuation of Cochemea’s explorations, part of a musical process of cultural reclamation and healing. This work reflects the deepening of his connections with family and keepers of memory in his bloodlines as he focuses on one particular line of his family tree. “Baca Sewa'' is Cochemea’s original family name prior to colonization. The melody was composed by Anthony Gastelum and features vocals and drumming by the Baca Sewa Singers- a group composed of several generations of family members. Vol II: Baca Sewa runs thick with sonic tributes and remembrances. “Chito’s Song” is a contemplative, ethereal tribute to a beloved uncle. “Curandera” conjures the memory of the irrepressible healing power of medicine women. “Black Pearl” recalls his great grandfather, heir to a legacy of indigenous peoples enslaved as pearl divers in the Sea of Cortez.
As a soloist, section player, and composer/arranger over the past twenty-five years, Cochemea has been featured with diverse and notable musical acts, from touring and recording with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Kevin Morby, Jon Batiste, Archie Shepp, Antibalas, Budos Band and Robert Walter's 20th congress, to performance and studio work for Mark Ronson, The Roots, David Byrne, Beck, Rick Rubin, and Quincy Jones among many others. Most recently, he is featured on “a few words for the firing squad (radiation)” on the acclaimed RTJ4, by Run The Jewels.
-Martín Perna, 2021
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