ABOUT ZEN RANT... 'Putting our words to the rhythms of the drums, and putting our minds to the business of culture-building and spiritual survival, is the highest province of the poets and drummers. From the rhythm of our heartbeats, to the streetwise rhythms of city life, to the rhythms of the natural forces that surround us, we shape our music and our stories. We have passed these stories on from generation to generation since the moment when language began...And that's exactly what I'm doing with Zen Rant. I'm looking to add my voice and my stories to the mix.' (Tony Vacca). Zen Rant is a collection of rants and rhythm-driven poetry by Tony Vacca. It's all about the connection between Spoken Word, Jazz, The Beat Poets, World Music, Hip-Hop, and the Griots of West Africa. That's a lot to put on one plate, but it's an accurate reflection of the forces at work in this recording. And it works because every player on this CD is directly connected to one or more of these worlds. Just as importantly, each player gets how it all flows together. Look at who's part of the project: Tony Vacca: an innovative Jazz/World Music percussionist, drummer, composer, and 21st century beat poet. Gokh-bi System: A Senegalese troupe whose music ranges from West African hip-hop to ancient praise songs. Members of the group are; Sana Ndiaye, Mamadou Ndiaye, Pap Pouye, Diasse Pouye, Backa Niang, and Abdou Saar Abiodun Oyewole: poet and original member of The Last Poets, regarded as one of the founding fathers of what Rap was always supposed to be. Barou Sall: Praise singer and master of the xalam, ancient predecessor of the banjo. Massamba Diop: doctor of the tama, or talking drum. An original member of Baaba Maal's now famous Afro-pop troupe. Omar: A young praise singer offering prayers in the streets of Dakar's Ginaw Rail district. Tim Moran, Steve Leicach, and Joe Sallins: All three of whom are long-term members of Tony Vacca's World Rhythms Ensemble. They play saxophone, percussion and electric bass respectively, and create the musical foundation for the Zen Rant Project. Vacca's own take on the project: 'Zen Rant is a non-stop, streetwise look into my life and the world around me. From the breathtaking beauty and the everyday miracles, to the heartache and suffering that touches us all. So I found some of the finest musicians on the planet to help tell the story. Here's an excerpt from Zen Rant, the title cut: It's a battle, a Zen love that has taught me well; this earth, this life is heaven and hell. It's village and city, it's touch and go, it's blood and tears, and I know, I know it's the moments, the years; I'm here to get it right, to taste, to touch, to surrender, to fight to Polish my soul, to embrace the light, to dance beneath the diamond skies of night, to kiss my mind, to make peace with death, to make the most of my time and stand up to the tests that dare the warrior in me to fall.' MORE ABOUT THE GROUP AND THE MUSIC TONY VACCA is an innovative American percussionist with Jazz and World Music roots going back to 1972. His solo performances are a nearly non-stop athletic spectacle of percussion music and spoken word. He incorporates percussion instruments from a world of traditions that includes African, Caribbean, Asian and Middle-Eastern influences, and then creates a sound that feels right at home anywhere he performs. Over the course of his career, he has made a habit of pushing the already adventurous conventions of World Music into new territory, both as a soloist and as the leader of his World Rhythms Ensemble. All this is part of the reason he has recorded and/or performed with such a wide range of musicians. These include pop icon Sting, Senegalese Afro-pop star Baaba Maal, Jazz trumpeter and World Music legend Don Cherry, poet Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, Senegalese Hip-Hop stars Gokh-bi System, and Massamba Diop, Senegalese master of the tama or talking drum. The music of TONY VACCA'S WORLD RHYTHMS ENSEMBLE is a hard-hitting earthy fusion of Jazz, World Music, and spoken word. Combining elements of traditional African and Afro-Cuban rhythms with the American-born tradition of innovation, they create a sound that is simultaneously elegant and slamming. It's the hypnotic and powerful sound of giant West-African balafons; the urban bite of a jazz saxophone; the dreamy lyricism of electric violin; the funk and magic of electric bass like you've never heard...All mixed well with a world of rhythm-driven poetry and spoken word, and some blow-your-mind spectacular percussion. In essence, the group is a self-contained festival of World Music, which is no surprise to those who know and follow their work. Vacca's own description of the group helps to explain how and why they've been playing together for over a decade; 'It's no accident that this group is like it is...I mean every one of these players is a dedicated musician, composer, and leader in his own right. We've created an almost psychedelic, collective kind of storytelling with this music. Every time we play together I'm amazed by what happens. My respect and appreciation for each of these musicians just keeps getting deeper... I guess when you put this kind of extraordinary skill together with our experience, and the spirit of generosity that everyone brings to this music, amazing things are going to happen on a regular basis. It just blows my mind.'