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When The Spirit Returns by Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy

I’m going out on a limb here: the three wind fellows of the Art Ensemble of Chicago were a jazz/Great Black Music variation on the Three Stooges. Roscoe Mitchell: Moe, the thinker and planner, but volatile; Joseph Jarman: Larry (who actually played a fair violin in real life), the balancer, spiritual; the late Lester Bowie: a cross between Curly, uninhibited, a let the good times roll kinda guy, and Shemp, the limber, unpredictable hipster, both prone to delightful slapstick. Of all the AEC side projects/spin-offs, Bowie’s were always the most prone to unbridled, if sometimes noisy (in a good way), fun. This platter is Bowie’s final stand with his long running Brass Fantasy group, an all-brass-w/a drummer band that interprets jazz standards as well as classic and contemporary pop (i.e., from the 50s R&B/rock & roll era to hip-hop/contempo R&B). Bowie & his horns go to town on tunes by India Arie, Babyface and Notorious B.I.G., treating them with good-naturedly irreverent deference (re-inventing them in the jazz tradition), recalling New Orleans brass bands, John Philip Sousa, classical brass music and even (dare I say it) horn-dominated early rock/jazz fusion outfits like Blood Sweat & Tears. Bob Marley’s "One Love" retains its reggae feeling, but becomes a reflective N’Orleans funeral march/loving send-off. And Bowie (who even recorded with David Bowie) plays trumpet with gentle soul and pre-bop crackle ‘n’ smears. .... Spirit.... finds Bowie’s Brass Fantasy going out on the proverbial high, clear note. [PS: Though this was recorded & released awhile back, this album wasn't available in America 'til '03.]

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy
  • CD Title: When The Spirit Returns
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Reissue Original Release: 2000
  • Record Label: Birdology / Dreyfus
  • Musicians: L.B., Ravi Best: trumpet; Bob Stewart: tuba; Josh Roseman, Luis Bonilla: trombone; Vinnie Johnson: drums; Vincent Chancey: French horn; others.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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