Sonic Liberation Front is a band caught between worlds. Known for its iconoclastic combination of free-jazz passion and Afro- Cuban percussion excitement, the amorphous Philadelphia unit practically invents a new genre with each composition. Featuring a deeply talented pool of musicians trained in a variety of idioms gives the band the ability to incorporate so many genres while maintaining authenticity.
Led by percussionist Kevin Diehl, a protégé of free-jazz pioneer Sunny Murray, SLF connects his training in the post-bop tradition to his dedicated study of traditional Afro-Cuban Yoruba roots music that informs SLF’s colorful sound. Ambient electronics, innovative production techniques, and soulful vocals subtly embellish the compositions, carefully contextualizing the ancient traditional music into a new brilliant entity. While other musicians have incorporated bata drumming into jazz, none have done it with the vigor or passion of SLF. The band members are true students of the Lukumi tradition under the guidance of percussionist/omo aña Chuckie Joseph, a lifelong Yoruba cultural scholar. It’s been said a million times that all music has its source in West Africa – and by returning the focus to its origins, SLF achieves a natural eclectism that serves as a fountain of ingenuity. Ancient to the future, indeed.
On the band’s second album, Ashé A Go-Go, Sonic Liberation Front has improved the formula that earned the band critical praise from an array of media (including The Wire, CMJ, Cadence, Philadelphia Inquirer, Jazz Magazine (France), and Time Out-New York) for its 2001 debut Water and Stone (released on Eye Dog Records).