Monday, August 1, 2011

Lester Bowie - The Odyssey of Funk & Popular Music

Songbook albums were considered cool and trendy in the late '90s, and that seemed to fit into Lester Bowie's pop-tune agenda with the Brass Fantasy. But he wouldn't be bound to the usual worshipful homages on bended knee to a single composer, directing his Brass Fantasy (brass ensemble plus drums/percussion) toward a mind-boggling assortment of sources that are often thoroughly contemporary. Hence a record that pits Cole Porter back-to-back with Marilyn Manson, Andrew Lloyd Webber with the Spice Girls, or how about Notorious B.I.G. with Giacomo Puccini! Bowie's Brass Fantasy is at the ensemble's best when they swagger irreverently through "The Birth of the Blues" or a doo wop "In the Still of the Night" -- and the Manson track, "Beautiful People," is savage, even raucous fun. Other songs are taken quite seriously; the Spice Girls' "Two Become One" becomes a sophisticated ballad chart. However, the Bowie band cannot relieve the tedium of Lloyd Webber's quasi-tango "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" by doing it relatively straight, and they seem a bit intimidated by Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" -- which is probably beyond the reach of a jazz treatment anyway. At the very least, the brasses sound fresh and interested in what they're doing, so there is pleasure to be had here. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy
Album: The Odyssey of Funk & Popular Music
Year: 1998
Label: Atlantic
Total time: 55:29

Tracks:
1.  The Birth of the Blues (Lew Brown/Buddy DeSylva/Ray Henderson) 5:49
2.  Next (Joseph Bowie/Sebastian Piekarek) 6:06
3.  Two Become One (Spice Girls/Stannard/Rowe) 6:08
4.  Don't Cry For Me Argentina (Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber) 9:10
5.  Beautiful People (Marilyn Manson/Twiggy Ramirez) 6:57
6.  In the Still of the Night (Cole Porter) 4:43
7.  Notorious Thugs (Sean Combs/Al Henderson/S. Howse/Stevie J. Jordan/BrianMcCane/Christopher Wallace) 5:31
8.  Nessun Dorma (Giocomo Puccini) 6:49
9.  If You Don't Know Me By Now (Harold Melvin/Teddy Pendergrass) 4:15

Personnel:
Lester Bowie (Trumpet)
Joseph "Mac" Gollehon (Trumpet)
Ravi Best (Trumpet)
Gerald Brazel (Trumpet)
Bob Stewart (Tuba)
Vincent Chancey (French Horn)
Luis Bonilla (Trombone)
Joshua Roseman (Trombone)
Gary Valente (Trombone)
Vinnie Johnson (Drums)
Victor See Yuen (Percussion)
Dean Bowman (Vocals)
Joseph Bowie (Vocals and Trombone)

3 comments:

  1. i love lester's brass fantasy, but this is a new one for me. many thanks, friend!

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  2. Everybody loves Lester . . . almost. I'm going to try to get a handle on this revered - for the most part - artist if it kills me. I got a feel for Tristano when I was a kid. Coltrane was easy; I play a track from "Expression" on the show at least once every month. Thanx, itr, for the possibility.

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