Don Caballero – What Burns Never Returns Touch and Go Records tg185cd (1998)
Understanding and liking this album will take a certain recognition. Reviewer audiojunkie said this album “was the first time [he] had ever heard the drums played as the lead instrument.” This is a useful description of how the album revolves around solos by drummer Damon Che. There really aren’t guitar (or bass) solos, and there are no vocals. This also means that there isn’t a lot of melody to latch on to, just shifting and complex rhythms. Probably the closest comparison would be to a more rock oriented version of Steve Coleman‘s M-Base music, which made melody secondary to rhythm. Don Caballero’s biggest achievement is focusing on drums and rhythm so much without grounding the music in African-derived rhythms. This one won’t be for everyone, but heartier souls should give it a chance to grow on them.