Derf Reklaw (hmm, wonder what his birth name could possibly be?) is a percussionist who straddles hard bop, free jazz, and world music, all three genres heavily influencing 1998's masterful From the Nile. More than just another African-influenced light jazz record to play in the background of funky but chic boutiques, these ten lengthy songs are challenging, forceful music that use their Brazilian, Haitian, and African elements not as color, but as the building blocks of the songs themselves. The songs are built on tricky polyrhythms (from Reklaw and up to four other drummers) with only the most minimal of melodic accompaniment -- a little trumpet, some guitar (most of it in the heavily rhythmic Nigerian style), and a touch of piano are the only thing keeping this from being all drums, all the time. Reklaw and the other vocalists declaim and chant the lyrics in a variety of languages over the rhythms, giving the whole album a sort of incantatory, almost religious feel that's quite impressive. From the Nile is strictly for world music fans, but it's much better than a lot of the watered-down polyglot pop that passes for world music.