Though he first started touring with bands at age 14, Dexter Story did not release an album under his own name until his late 40s. That record, Seasons, came out in early 2013. If it seems like he was uninvolved with music during the intervening years, let me set the record straight. Story has performed with artists from Wynton Marsalis to Ravi Coltrane to Kamasi Washington, to name just a few. He also founded The Life Force Trio with Carlos Niño and was a member of Build An Ark. Last Friday, he released Wondem, the follow-up to Seasons.
The influence of East African music runs throughout the length of Wondem. Though African culture and music have influenced Story throughout his career, Wondem‘s foundations were laid in when Story began arranging music for the Los Angeles-based Ethio Cali ensemble. From there he began exploring Ethiopian music further.
Story has performed an extraordinary feat on Wondem, in taking what he learned from his research and combining it with funk, jazz, soul, and even pop. To combine so many styles was a risky endeavor, but Story finds a successful mixture on each track of Wondem. The opening track, “A New Day,” features a bright blast of horns at its start and stays chipper throughout.
On Wondem, Dexter Story has taken his accumulated knowledge and familiarity with a host of different styles and combined them with East African influences to produce a soulful fusion record.