Leave your preconceptions at the door when you hit play on this one. Roy Campbell, an incendiary free jazz trumpeter? Sometimes. Wilber Morris, an adventurous, abstract bassist? Sometimes. Guillermo E. Brown, a steaming powerhouse drummer? Sometimes. It's Krunch Time
is an exceptionally accessible record, given the broad talent and free jazz experience of the musicians. It challenges the stereotypes that have been imposed on these players, and it showcases the flexibility of the relative newcomer, vibraphonist Kahn Jamal.
Some of the pieces on It's Krunch Time explore time and space with curiosity and liberation. "The Opening," for example, wanders quite a bit as Campbell soars high and Jamal breaks down the barriers of harmony. Morris pulses rather regularly on this one, and Brown offers delicate accents throughout. But then it's a big leap to the hard-swinging funk of Monk's "Bemsha Swing"where Brown and Morris stick like glue in the pocket. On this tune, Jamal comps the changes while Campbell solos in straight-ahead fashion on top. (In the same vein: "Ode for Mr. DC.") The opener, "Tenderness of Spring," starts out with a delicate, lyrical bass solo and very gradually evolves into a sensitive ballad. The closer takes on "The Star Spangled Banner" with a conspicuously Hendrix-like deconstruction. (Unfortunately, Hendrix's version is much better, in my opinion.)
It's Krunch Time presents a tasteful mix of straight-ahead jazz, lyricism and adventurism, though it mostly stays in an accessible range. This disc deserves praise for its postmodern electicism, and it certainly defies any type-cast roles for its musicians. For the most part, it's a winnerthough I'd like to hear these players stretch out a bit more together.
Personnel: Roy Campbell: trumpet; Kahn Jamal: vibes; Wilber Morris: bass; Guillermo E. Brown: drums.