Jamal River (who recorded most of his music under the name King Toad) was a brilliant musician and one of my greatest influences. He was also a friend of mine, and someone I often played with in the early years of the 21st century. I had always harbored an ambition to collaborate with him on an album, intimidating as that prospect was. In fact, we talked about doing so repeatedly over the course of many years, but never got very far into the part where we actually did anything about it. We did eventually get a good start at it, but the project was cut short by Jamal's death in 2013.
This album is my attempt to finish what he and I started. It isn't the collaboration I had hoped for. Jamal is at its heart, of course: most of the music is built on tracks we'd started layering together, ideas he sent me to work with, or recordings of the two of us improvising. But the arc and composition of each song—and the album as a whole—was determined entirely by me. I want to give him full credit for the contributions he made, but not saddle him with the responsibility for something over which he ultimately had no control. The failings of this album are mine alone. And there are many. It will be obvious to anyone familiar with his work that this music would have come out something very different had Jamal had equal say in its execution. This album is woefully incomplete without the degree of his endlessly inventive voice it would have had if we had finished it while he was alive. In that sense, it is as much as anything else a statement about how much he is missed and how much poorer modern music is without him.
All proceeds will go to the Areli Jamal Morgan River Project.
released November 20, 2014
All musics written and recorded by Al Angel and Jamal River. Edited and arranged by Al Angel.
All of Jamal's parts were unpublished at the time of his death, with the exception of a track he once sent me which he later repurposed as the introduction to his 2011 album, Hooray For The Bad Guy!, the rights to which belong solely to his estate.
Please check out that, and all of King Toad's other great albums, here: kingtoadmusic.com