Joe Harriott & Amancio D'Silva Quartet - Hum Dono LP


Label: Trunk

Released in 1969, Hum Dono is a legendary "lost" British jazz plate, described by Trunk as the best modern British jazz LP of all time that will set you back a good £2000 second hand – if you're lucky enough to find a copy. Its beguiling mix of East meets West rhythms, ideas and joy pits Jamaican free jazz virtuoso Joe Harriott and Indian guitarist Amancio D'Silva against some of the UK jazz elite's most essential players. Blending library-style exotica with tabla rhythms, cascading vocals and lively, labyrinthine guitar licks, it's a horizontal and surprisingly accessible smoker's delight.

Dave Green introduces us with a walking bassline on "Stephano's Dance," joined by Norma Winstone on vocals, Bryan Spring on drums and Ian Carr on flugelhorn before Harriott adds lead horn and D'Silva augments the composition with feather-light strums. It's music that's undoubtedly inspired by free jazz and fusion, but channels in a different direction, no doubt captivated by London's unhinged energy in the late 1960s. Winstone's wordless vocalisations are particularly charming, perfectly capturing the city's obsession with exotica and coming across like a lullaby from beneath the ocean. This mood is cut through by D'Silva's unusual, wiry riffs, as inspired by South Asian classical and folk music as they are blues.

"Ballad For Goa" makes these inspirations even more upfront, but never careers into new age (it's resolutely not Indo-jazz), playing carefully ornate licks over restrained, post-bop instrumentation and Winstone's ethereal coos. It's still modern jazz, but struck through with ideas that have left an indelible mark on the genre – there's a damn good reason why this LP has been such an enduring milestone in the Brit jazz canon. On the title track, Bryan Spring trades his kit for tabla, and these clipped, earthy rhythms provide a subtly different focus, leaving bags of space for Harriott's lyrical horn fluctuations and D'Silva's masterfully restrained performance - psychedelic and resonant. And the record closes with its most blissful moment "Jaipur," a blunted fusion of Winstone's scats, Carr and Harriott's horn wails, Green's gentle plucks and D'Silva's delicate fingerpicking.

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