203

Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy: When the Spirit Returns

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy: When the Spirit Returns Lester Bowie led the pack of avant-garde trumpeters in his work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, but his Brass Fantasy output was always in a more traditional vein, even when blending elements of funk, hip-hop, soul, rock, reggae, and any other musical influences that crossed the bandleader's mind.

Bowie passsed away in 1999, but two years earlier he took his Brass Fantasy into the studio and laid down two hours worth of music. When the Spirit Returns is the result, and it is perhaps the most traditional effort by him and the group, ranging from pure flowing harmonics to a more cacophonus New Orleans atmosphere while maintaining an in-the-moment contemporary feel. Bowie is out front a good deal, with his signature slurred, drawling lines, and the harmonics behind him, and other soloists – from four trumpets, three trombones, a French horn and a tuba – are a good notch or two above the previous Brass Fantasy outings; and absolutely gorgeous on "Count on Me." As on previous Brass Fantasy discs, Bob Stewart's slightly seismic tuba holds down the bottom end, while drummer and percussionist Vinnie Johnson and Victor See Yuen, respectively lay down subtle grooves behind it all.

When the Spirit Returns, recorded in 1997, features a mix of R&B and pop covers which date from that time and earlier. Songs from Notorious Big and TLC, Whitney Houston and Vanessa Williams, as well as Bob Marley's "One Love," act as starting points for Bowie's signature jazz departures.

The arrival of When the Spirit Returns had this fan pulling out the earlier Brass Fantasy discs to see if the initial impression that this was the best of the lot held true. For me, it does: the layered harmonics and soloing are on a different plane from earlier discs, and the songs – even if you're not up on '97 pop and R&B standards – are all perfect vehicles (because he makes them such) for Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy. That opinion, for other Brass Fantasy fans, will depend on the personal "out-there versus traditional" outlook. This one is has a start-to-finish accessiblity.


Track Listing: Player Hater, Waterfall, Count on Me, Solitude, Biggie's Ride, One Love, Unchained Melody, Naakkurat Na, Save the Best for Last, When the Spirit Returns

Personnel: Lester Bowie, Ravi Best, Gerald Brazel,Joseph "Mac" Gallehan--trumpets; Bob Stewart--tuba; Vincent Chancy--French horn; Luis Bonilla, Joshua Roseman Gary Valente--trombones; Vinnie Johnson--drums; Victor See Yuen--percussions; Dean Bowman--vocals

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Dreyfus Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Mingus, Mingus, Mingus" CD/LP/Track Review Mingus, Mingus, Mingus
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "Inspired" CD/LP/Track Review Inspired
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "Ensam" CD/LP/Track Review Ensam
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Ena / One" CD/LP/Track Review Ena / One
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Until Your Throat Is Dry" CD/LP/Track Review Until Your Throat Is Dry
by John Sharpe
Published: September 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!