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Gilfema + 2: Jazz Across The Continents

Gilfema may be a tad subtle for a band name. It has nothing to do with federal emergency management. It could conceivably denote an international dream team of Gilberto Gil and Fema Kuti, but it's not that, either. Instead, Gilfema is a cross-cultural trio — a West African guitarist, a Hungarian-born drummer and a Swedish/Italian bassist — with a jazz foundation.

Lionel Gilles Loueke (GIL), Ferenc Nemeth (FE) and Massimo Biolcati (MA) met at Berklee College of Music, then cultivated their tight ensemble sound at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Their egalitarian aesthetic has less to do with a desire for cosmopolitan ideals than it does with finding common ground as musicians.

On its latest release, GILFEMA + 2, the trio adds two reed players to the group dynamic: Anat Cohen on clarinet and John Ellis on bass clarinet. During this WBGO studio session, Joris Roelofs substitutes in the clarinet chair.

"Question of Perspective" is a composition from Ferenc Nemeth. Lionel Loueke wrote "Twins" to welcome the daughters of producer friend Michele Locatelli. Finally, Massimo Biolcati wrote music for the phrase "Master of the Obvious."

Gilfema stands out for its flexibility. The point is not to geo-tag these songs with the country of origin for each contributor, but to hear three modern musicians sharing their talent. When ideas about music are this strong, invite any number of gifted musicians to the party and just play.

Listen to the previous Favorite Session, or see our full archive.

Copyright 2009 WBGO

Josh Jackson is the associate general manager for content at WRTI in Philadelphia.