Monday, December 18, 2006

Buckshot LeFonque

Lots of records are touted as breakthroughs by the hype machines and spinmasters, but this one really is -- a marvelously playful and, above all, musical fusion of the old jazz verities and newer currents swirling around the 1990s. "Buckshot LeFonque" was a pseudonym for Cannonball Adderley in the 1950s, and you'll squint long and hard trying to find Branford's name on the jacket and cover except for the tiny note, "Produced by B. Marsalis." Maybe he was hedging his bets against the expected (and received) flak from the jazz purists, but the reality is that he has found a brilliant way to fuse hip-hop rhythms with mainstream jazz licks without compromising either idiom. The best number is a lovely setting of Maya Angelou's poem -"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," with absolutely gorgeous soprano by Marsalis, some great Miles-tinged muted trumpet from Roy Hargrove, and Angelou reciting her words against the big electronic backbeat. The free-thinking Branford also injects real funk into Elton John's "Mona Lisas (And Mad Hatters)"; throws in a little reggae, rap, and lots of sampling; gets down and dirty with Kevin Eubanks' slide guitar on the truckin' cut "Some Cow Fonque"; and unifies most of the package with a couple of recurring, catchy riffs and touches of horseplay. The only misfire is a totally incongruous, totally dull soul ballad called "Ain't It Funny" (sung by Tammy Townsend) that sounds as if someone suddenly switched CDs on your changer. Nevertheless, regardless of what the neo-boppers might say, this is a more imaginative record than any of Branford's estimable straight jazz projects -- and a lot more fun. ~ Richard S. Ginell, All Music Guide

1. Ladies & Gentlemen, Presenting...
2. The Blackwidow Blues
3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
4. Mona Lisas (And Mad Hatters)
5. Wonders & Signs
6. Ain't It Funny
7. Some Cow Fonque (More Tea, Vicar?)
8. Some Shit @ 78 BPM (The Scratch Opera)
9. Hotter Than Hot
10. Breakfast @ Denny's
11. Shoot The Piano Player
12. No Pain, No Gain Listen
13. Sorry, Elton Listen
14. ...And We Out
15. Bonus Track 1

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