Chip Wickham / Astral Travelling / Gondwana Records – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

Flautist and saxophonist extraordinaire, Chip Wickham, pitches up on the mighty Gondwana for a superb 3-track vinyl release, where he reinterprets a trio of classic tunes by Lonnie Liston Smith. The results are really rather beautiful – a wonderful winding road through Chip’s modus operandi – a love poem to Lonnie, rendered exquisitely.

First up is Chip’s fantastical take on Astral Travelling, all softly softly atmospherics and twinkling phrases, an achingly deep melody pitched at the stars – cosmologically-minded jazz of the sweetest kind. Three minutes in and there’s hush, a gathering of thoughts, harp patterns guiding the ensemble, the players biding their time, ticking over, waiting for the path to open up again. Lonnie’s luxuriant original sprinkled with love, roasted and toasted to perfection.

There’s a lightness of touch at work here, an acknowledgement of the genius nature of the source material, yet offering them up to a new, revealing, light. Classic works of art always are capable of transforming themselves in fresh and stunning ways. Hence Sais (Egypt) finds itself reworked into a smouldering mid-tempo mantra: spiralling synth riffs and warm keys evoking a Northeast African midday meltdown, the sound of the Nile whispering away keenly in the background. Travelling without moving, as a friend of ours likes to call it.

Last up is Peaceful Ones, and oh my word it’s the perfect ending. We are the peaceful ones – Lonnie, Chip, you and me and all the world’s music lovers. We are the strong ones, the ones who know that love will always overcome hate. As I write, the early May sun is shining, a lone seagull wheels away overhead and the sax break is telling me, telling us all, we shall overcome, we shall overcome.

It’s difficult to recommend this E.P. enough: it’s music for an eternal now, dripping with soul and encased in love. Chip and friends, and Gondwana, have come together to cook up something wonderful: praise be!

Chip Wickham`s awesome Astral Travelling is available to preorder directly from the glorious Gondwana Records.

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