Jazz history is full of superstar jams that ought to be great, but fall apart in practice because the virtuosos just don't mesh -- they're so used to being the stars of their own band that they have fallen out of the habit of listening to other people's ideas. Eugene Friesen, Howard Levy, and Glenn Velez are acknowledged as masters of their instruments, so one might expect a certain amount of ego to overcome when the three get together. Amazingly, that doesn't seem to be a problem. The musical give-and-take on Carnival of Souls is astonishing, with all three artists contributing to complex compositions that straddle jazz, South American samba, and Eastern European and Arabic folk rhythms. It probably helps that all three artists have explored this territory separately, and that all three are famous for their improvisational skills. Indeed, the CD liner notes explain that many of these pieces came together in the studio, while others were composed over a number of years. It is a tribute to these musicians that it is impossible to tell which is which, since the sound on all of them is so completely integrated. Carnival of Souls is a masterpiece of folk-jazz fusion, and it's worth going well out of your way to find a copy.
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AllMusic Review by Richard Foss