182

Us3: Hand On The Torch

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Much of the talk about Us3, hip hop, and its mixture of rap with jazz has centered around the sampling of legendary jazz tunes. While rap remains the centerpiece, jazz sampling takes a back seat to the fine mainstream jazz presented by the members of Us3, including trumpeter Gerard Presencer, guitarist Tony Remy, trombonist Dennis Rollins, pianist Matt Cooper, and saxophonists Ed Jones, Mike Smith & Steve Williamson. The arranging, programming, and effects are created by Mel Simpson and Geoff Wilkinson; their keyboard accompaniment includes synthesized bass, drums, and more. The name Us3 comes from a tune named "Us Three" that the Horace Parlan trio recorded for Blue Note in 1960.

"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.


Title: Hand On The Torch | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Storyteller" CD/LP/Track Review Storyteller
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Kucheza" CD/LP/Track Review Kucheza
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Groove Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Afro-Caribbean Mixtape" CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Can't Get Started" CD/LP/Track Review Can't Get Started
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 24, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor