Best known for a 15-year stint as a member of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the California-born, New York-based multi-instrumentalist Cochemea Gastelum has a lengthy and acclaimed career as a soloist, bandleader, musical director, composer and ensemble player, including releasing a critically applauded album The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow several years ago.
Interestingly, Gastelum, who has Yaqui Mescalero Apache Indian heritage, grew up in a rather musical home — with both of his parents being musicians. And although his name actually means “they were all killed asleep,” he grew up without knowing much about his own heritage. Ironically, the California-born New York-based saxophonist, bandleader, musical director, composer has spent the bulk of his musical career writing, performing and recording various iterations of roots music; but his forthcoming solo effort All My Relations, which is slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Daptone Records finds Gastelum connecting with his roots through music. “All My Relations is a way for me to explore my roots through music,” the California-born, New York-based saxophonist, bandleader, musical director and composer says in press notes. “Some of it is a memory that is imagined from a time and place I’ve never been (‘Sonora’) or a musical impression of ritual (‘Mitote’). I felt compelled to add the way I feel when I go to ceremony, when I feel connected with my ancestors, to the musical narrative.”
Originally conceived during Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ final year of touring, Gastelum along with Daptone Records head and producer Gabriel Roth casted a varied but familial set of local musicians to bring Gastelum’s ideas to life. Unsurprisingly, 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,” Gastelum says of the recording sessions.
Album title track and first single “All My Relations” is centered by an arrangement featuring tribal percussion, chants, ethereal flute, and a gently propulsive bass line to create a type of ceremonial music that feels and sounds primordial and older than our own perception of time. But perhaps most important, the track finds the musicians aiming for something much more profound — a connection with the infinite.