Dadisi Komolafe ‘Hassan’s Walk’ 180g Vinyl (Pure Pleasure) 5/5

Originally released in 1983 on the famed Nimbus West Records, here reissued in all its 180g vinyl glory we have the gem that is Dadisi Komolafe’s ‘Hassan’s Walk’.

While the Los Angeles jazz scene continues to captivate audiences even today through music by Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin and Alpha Pup/World Galaxy Records, it was Nimbus West Records that carried that torch through a series of stunning releases in the 1980s. Born Arthur Wells, Komolafe was a flautist and saxophonist who found himself under the tutelage of the revered pianist and composer, Horace Tapscott. Tapscott founded the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra in 1961 and the inception of Nimbus West Records was very much a result of Tapscott and his ideology and doctrine that he freely passed over to musicians that he mentored and nurtured. Dadisi Komlafe was one such prodigal talent who, through his connection to Tapscott, found himself recording with members of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra as well as appearing on releases by pianist Nate Morgan’s ‘Journey into Nigritia’, vibraphonist Rickey Kelly’s ‘Limited Stops Only’ and Tapscott’s ‘The Call’.

Despite this being a reissue of an album released over 35 years ago, you’d be forgiven for assuming ‘Hassan’s Walk’ would actually be the product of a much older time period like the 1970s or even the 1960s – comparing it to the stunning works of the original flag wavers and icons of what is now known as “spiritual jazz” like Pharoah Sanders’s or Alice Coltrane’s seminal Impulse! Records years or the epic catalogue of music from Sun Ra amassed over those decades.

Featuring thrilling reinterpretations of Thelonius Monk’s ‘Round Midnight’ as well as Wayne Shorter’s ‘Speak No Evil’, the latter of which displaying such infectious energy that it would surely rank as the album’s highlight. But the album also features Komolafe’s own compositions including the fifteen-minute opener and title track, ‘Hassan’s Walk’.

Fellow Nimbus recording artists complete the band line-up, including bassist Roberto Miranda (Vinny Golia, Linda Hill), drummer Sonship Theus (Michał Urbaniak, Charles Lloyd), pianist Eric Tillman (Potter & Tillman) and vibraphonist Rickey Kelly (Greg Adams, Adele Sebastian). Production is tackled by Tom Albach, who founded Nimbus West in Santa Barbara in 1979 and also produced an incredible amount of Nimbus’ stunning catalogue.

Even at Nimbus’ most productive years, the lesser-known label’s releases lay as treasures for the true die-hards but there’s the hope that their recent run of reissues and Bandcamp re-releases will open those treasures up to new audiences and generations alike. The Los Angeles jazz scene has always been held in high regard, not just for being home to the aforementioned jazz icons, but being home to a progressive and free-thinking approach to jazz music. ‘Hassan’s Walk’ – and Nimbus West – absolutely warrant their places within the lineage of Los Angeles’ jazz landscape and this one and only record by Dadisi Komolafe is a joyous place to start.

Imran Mirza