Us3: Hand On The Torch
"Cantaloop," with its sampling of Herbie Hancock's classic tune and the voice of Pee Wee Marquette, features Presencer's clear trumpet voice integrated with the sample; rapper Rahsaan says, "Gimme more of that funky horn," and the trumpeter goes off on a powerful solo to match the description. "I Got It Goin' On" uses the sampling of Reuben Wilson's organ as a backdrop for horn work by Presencer, Rollins, and Smith; trombonist Rollins presents a bebop solo with clearly-defined articulation and a warm, confident tone. The rap lyrics of "I Go To Work" offer a theme similar to that of the other tunes: despite growing up in a rough neighborhood and facing many obstacles, we are able, with a hardened attitude, to do the right thing after all. As rap artist Kobie Powell delivers the message, guitarist Tony Remy offers a fine solo in the mode of Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, and any number of leading jazz guitarists. With his Jamaican accent and monotone rap, Tukka Yoot teams with Ed Jones on "Tukka Yoot's Riddim" and Gerard Presencer on "Eleven Long Years" to present a message and to introduce his instrumental partners. "Lazy Day" blends a repeated sample from Bobby Hutcherson's vibes in the background, a story from rapper Powell, a lovely African chant from singer Marie Harper, and solid fill and solo support from Ed Jones' tenor sax.
While it's true that this album, presented by Us3, is rap music with a strong beat, a chip on its shoulder, and by design suited primarily for strenuous dancing, there is an artistic quality in the music that cannot be overlooked. The percussive rap voices, the cooperative horn work, the instrumental solos, the integration of sampling, and all the rhythmic effects that hold it together make this art form interesting, enjoyable and worthy of further study.
Record Label: Blue Note Records