Bruise Blood is a reference to Steve Reich’s 1960’s composition Come Out. Reich’s medium is a tape-loop based on the spoken words of Daniel Hamm, a young man from Harlem wrongly accused and convicted of murder. After police officers tried to brutally beat a confession out of him, Hamm made a desperate attempt to show his need for immediate medical treatment – “I had to, like, open the bruise up, and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them.”
Come out to show them, come out to show them...
These echoing words strongly reverberate today. America is hurting inside. Years of division, ignored pain, and struggle have been festering and clotting under the skin. Nori’s Bruise Blood is an album determined to cut that wound wide open to let the blood out.
The album opens with The Dream, a song that introduces a contemplative tone with a stately three-note motif and slowly devolves into a chaotic roar of unresolved doubt. Wildfire is about an arsonist setting blaze to our future and reveling in the “flames of hate.” When the smoke clears, a fearful mother ponders the world she has brought her child into in the introspective Crash and Burn. Motherhood is further explored in Undertow, a song that flows with a sweeping string arrangement and unpredictable rhythm. Side A ends with The Walk. It is a protest song written from a woman’s perspective. The lyrics are vivid. The march-like cadence is strong and deliberate. Side B begins with Bruise Blood, a collection of three songs: Sell My Soul gives insight into the cult of personality of a corrupt leader; the free-jazz stylings of The Star-Spangled Banner provide context for a bruised and divided nation (the lyrics come from an unofficial fifth verse written by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. during the American Civil War); the three-song collection concludes with Amends, a song in search of a way to stop the bleeding. The album closes with Decay (in two movements): Prelude is a dark and mysterious first movement arranged for string trio; Ballad, the second movement and final song of the album, leaves us wounded, lamenting that “you can’t see the part of me that’s you.”
Nori is a new generation jazz band from Austin, Texas. One-part jazz, one-part folk, and one-part world, the music is diverse as the makeup of its musicians. With Akina Adderley on vocals, Erik Telford on trumpet, Nick Litterski on keys, Aaron Allen on upright bass, and Andy Beaudoin on drums, Austinist describes Nori as “truly a monster collection of extremely talented Austin musicians.”
Enriching an aesthetic deeply rooted in American jazz and folk music, the ensemble playfully weaves together a myriad of global inﬂuences giving rise to a seamless synthesis of sound. These musical explorations expertly balance the narrative of the song with wide-open improvisations, echoing the transcendent tones of Nina Simone, Bill Frisell, John Coltrane, and Joni Mitchell.
The band’s debut album World Anew received much critical acclaim after its release in 2016:
“Nori’s debut full length dissolves divisions and builds bridges between world sounds with seemingly irreconcilable differences. It’s a sonic vision of a harmonious future.”
“Lyrics that are pure poetry.” – AXS
“They don’t use their skills to highlight themselves...They practice generous virtuosity.” – Designing & Neighboring
“World Anew gives notice that the ensemble’s rare genius is for making listeners hang rapturously on every word and gesture sung and played.” – Jazz da Gama