Black Current Jam (Dot Time)

Robert Hurst

Released May 19, 2017

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review




Black Current Jam just may be Hurst’s most ambitious recording project to date. His musicianship ignites a plethora of bass and rhythmic offerings, all situated by his international profile of eclectic bassist, composer, arranger, band leader and swing street strategist. Hurst elegantly lays out music architecture continually shifting beats that are endlessly stirring, never predictable. This recording is a hot savory mélange of rhythm. Watch yourself: you could be transfixed and entranced for life enjoying it.

Track Listing:

1. Detroit Day 9:39

2. Afromation 6:26

3. Two Beats and a Breath 2:13

4. Bela Bunda 5:47

5. Coneys and Vernors 8:54

6. Keepin’ it Rio 4:52

7. This is Your Brain on Drums 7:54

8. Morse Code and the Time 7:14

9. At First Sight 6:35

10. Happy Nappy 8:38


Robert Hurst: acoustic, electric bass

Nate Winn: drums

Ian Finkelstein: piano, keyboards

Rafael Statin: saxophone, woodwinds

Pepe Espinosa: percussion

Brendan Asante, Jillian Hurst, vocals

Faith C. Hall: spoken word


With Black Current Jam, bassist Robert Hurst is determined to cram in as much of the African diaspora in the Americas as possible. Straightahead jazz harmonies and improvisation merge therein with Caribbean clave and percussion, Brazilian lilt, funk and r&b grooves and textures, West African melodies and polyrhythms, and even African American poetry/spoken-word tradition. It’s a multivariate fusion. Yet Hurst not only pulls it off, creating an insoluble whole with his Detroit-based cohorts; he sounds absolutely beautiful in doing so. He sets up “Detroit Day” with an Africaninspired bass ostinato, then gradually layers funk drums, Latin percussion, salty soul saxophone and bebop/Afro-Cuban piano lines. Brendan Asante finally adds a melody that would fit into any or all of the above traditions, alternating between scat and lyrics. Most remarkable is the attention Hurst pays melody, especially for a bassist known for navigating complex rhythms. Central though these are to “Detroit Day,” or to the groovefest “This Is Your Brain On Drums,” there is rarely a turn away from prominent vocal melody. On “Bela Bunda” Asante scats along with Rafael Statin’s bass clarinet and saxophone; on “Keepin’ It Rio,” he vocalizes in gentle harmony to Hurst’s guitar-like playing. “Afromation,” a smooth, gorgeous ballad that is the disc’s best, finds Asante’s scat harmonizing with both Statin’s flute and himself (overdubbed) along with Hurst’s bass and Ian Finkelstein’s sensitive, melodic piano. It, and Black Current Jam overall, is a triumph.

Michael J. West (DownBeat)