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Published: 2001/08/20
by Pat Buzby

Boom Bop – Jean-Peaul Bourelly

Jazz Manet 2005
Jean-Paul Bourelly is a veteran experimental jazz/rock guitarist, and on
this release, "experimental" is the key term. To this writer’s best
interpretation, what we have here is an attempt to fuse African music, free
jazz and hip hop. Like many experiments, though, this CD is more about
process than the generation of definitive results.
Most cuts here feature African drum patterns and off-center, harmonically
ambiguous bass lines. Over this, we get bursts of soloing from Bourelly’s
distorted, Hendrixian guitar and veteran free jazz saxophonists Archie Shepp
and Henry Threadgill, as well as Abdourahmane Diop’s chants and Bourelly’s
funk vocalizing. The individual elements are always interesting, and the
combinations can be periodically beautiful.
However, for this listener, much of the disc becomes somewhat frustrating.
The players tend to cut in and out for 15-to-45-second stretches, preventing
them from building large statements, and there is little evident interaction
between them — it sounds as though they could all have only been listening
to the rhythm section. Perhaps this was part of Bourelly’s plan. The
credits are vague and sometimes incorrect, and there are no explanations in
the packaging, reminding me of the early 70s period when Miles Davis once
insisted on removing credits and liner information from his records to
confound critics and fellow musicians. Like some of Miles’s and others’
work from that era, "Boom Bop" is exciting in concept, but uneven in
execution.
One trouble is a lack of variety, which, fortunately, improves towards the
end of the disc. Root One, an acoustic solo track from Bourelly,
shakes things up, and Kinectic Threadness strips things down to
feature mostly only Bourelly’s acoustic and Threadgill’s sax. The decrease
in density helps, and this track is possibly the best. Invisible
Indivisible also stands out with its superimposition of Bourelly’s rap
over a Cream-like riff, although his words are sometimes inane.
As with those Miles releases, perhaps it’s better just to enjoy "Boom Bop"
for what it is: an exercise with great players and an intriguing set of
ideas. However, this release ultimately leaves one waiting for a more
realized expression of those ideas.

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