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World Music Features

Think of One

By Jeff Tamarkin
Published May 4, 2006

The sextet Think of One may well possess one of the most inapt monikers in all of music: Although jazz innovator Thelonious Monk once penned a song by that name, Think of One is anything but single-minded.

When the BBC Awards for World Music were handed out earlier this year, and a little known group from Belgium bested such veterans as Bob Brozman and Manu Chao in the “Boundary Crossing” category, some observers may have wondered what the voters were thinking. They were thinking of Think of One.

            The winning sextet, led by singer-songwriter-guitarist David Bovée, may well possess one of the most inapt monikers in all of music: Although jazz innovator Thelonious Monk once penned a song by that name, Think of One is anything but single-minded—unless shambolic jungle-funk-punk-dub-Gypsy-metal brass bands are common in your neck of the globe.

            Think of One calls Antwerp home, but they get around. In addition to the four albums they’ve released under that name—Juggernaut (1998), Naft (2000), Naft 2 (2002) and this year’s Chuva Em Po (Zonk Records import)—they also perform as Naft and have issued three albums as the Marrakech Emballages Ensemble, working with Moroccan gnawa musicians. But Chuva Em Po is likely their most ambitious undertaking to date.

            Intrigued by the Mangue Beat movement flagshipped by the late Chico Science and Nação Zumbi, Bovée and his supporting cast—Tomas De Smet, bass and elka; Dominic Ntoumos, trumpet; Eric Morel, sax; Roel Poriau, drums, guiro and cuica; and Tobe Wouters, tuba and trombone—headed to northeastern Brazil. There in Reçife the fusionistas worked with local musicians and vocalists (Dona Cila Do Coco, where have you been hiding and when can we hear more of you?) to assemble a stewpot of sounds integrating all of the above along with tastes of Brazil both old and new. Oh, yeah, jazz too.

            If all of this determined commingling sounds a bit precious and disjointed, rest assured that it’s not. Think of One, like Manu Chao, finds a commonality in all they pursue—the road from Morocco to Brazil and back home to Belgium is a straight if occasionally precarious path for them. Think of One is all about mixing it up and expecting the unexpected.

            Next up: an album with northern Canadian Inuit musicians. And, with any luck, an American record deal. (www.thinkofone.be)