Human Element – The Human Element (2011)

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Easy comparisons arrive quickly as the new self-titled Abstract Logix debut release by Human Element spins, since the group has connections to the original pioneers who fused jazz and world music. In fact, this nascent supergroup includes ex-members of the Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola and Herbie Hancock bands.

But Human Element’s undulating post-modern groove is sent to new heights by the combined contribution of tribal vocals and compelling percussion by Arto Tuncboyaciyan. There are plenty of other interesting sounds, as keyboardist Scott Kinsey ruminates on a series of interesting shapes, bassist Matthew Garrison (who’s played with Hancock, Zawinul and McLaughlin) and drummer Gary Novak (Corea) add crinkly, aggressive underpinnings. Yet, I kept coming back to Tuncboyaciyan (Di Meola, Zawinul), as he crafts a dizzying mosaic of churning, propulsive chants – even as he surrounds The Human Element with a tight embrace of rhythmic accents.

The links with Joe Zawinul – who often wrote in a riff-oriented and (in particular his work with Weather Report and thereafter) amid a bustling, at times almost threatening percussive din – would have been overt, even without the liner-note connections. Tuncboyaciyan helps give the album an original feel, an organic sense of collaboration, helping Human Element transcend even this most direct (and, frankly, quite familiar) lineage. The old-school pan-globalism of those legacy recordings is simply the jumping off point, and in moments like the title track and “Speak with Your Eye,” Human Element leaps well past that launching pad.

This is a group, even in the embryonic stages of music-making, that is already finding its own voice. Credit Tuncboyaciyan, Human Element’s secret weapon.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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