May 19, 2024

The Idea of North
The Sum of Us

(Magnetic Records – 2001)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.

The first thing you notice is that there are NO instruments. The Idea of North’s 2nd CD, The Sum of Us contains 11 tracks of the group’s unique and memorable a cappella sound, highlighted with some very funky and intricate vocal and body percussion. My Foolish Heart is saucy and crisp… and you’d SWEAR there are some instruments in there… somewhere. Their rendition of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror is very melodic and simple. The harmonies are practised and their timing is tight.

The classic It’s Alright With Me is sprightly. Idea of North is on a par with other a capella groups like the Persuasions and (to a lesser degree) Take 6. The groovin’ Mas Que Nada shows a lot of improvisation in their creation of the various percussive elements that make up the track, and it’s one of the few places that there are actual instruments (James Morrison’s quick Trombone licks). Based in Australia, I first heard these youngsters during a break at the I.A.J.E. convention in New York last year and they impressed me. We’ll be interviewing Idea of North in an upcoming issue of JazzUSA so stay tuned!