Lester Bowie


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There is a certain static electricity generated in this series of three duets from trumpeter Bowie and drummer/percussionist Wilson. Certainly they feed off each other's energy in counterpointed reverie, but the music goes beyond being merely spontaneous or made up on the spot. The cohesion and musicality they employ is purely delightful and eminently listenable over this 40-minute span. "Duet" is a shortie at just under three minutes, with Wilson's swing-to-Caribbean drum rhythms powering up Bowie's bold trumpet. "TBM" is just under 15 minutes, and Bowie quotes a variety of different lines, not the least of which is the Art Blakey/Jazz Messengers/Lee Morgan interpretation of "Three Blind Mice." They're hardly sightless, but insightful as they read each other's musical thoughts like bold, large print pages. "Finale" has Bowie more extroverted and bluesy -- quoting march exercises, holding long quieter notes, using short staccato blasts of power and Irish jig inferences, or running the table with his bleating, lightning fast runs that trademark his sound. Wilson gets more animated and at times Oriental sounding, but is generally free to insert phrases of snare, tom tom bass drums, and cymbals in whatever spontaneous fashion he chooses. He does a brief, heavy handed drum solo that is very R&B-ish in nature -- the root of these two master musicians' upbringing. This is not as heady as it is clean and solid, and is a very enjoyable listening experience. It's a CD Bowie fans should cherish, and serves well as an intro to the original Art Ensemble and ex-Paul Butterfield drummer, whose acclaim is still not near what his immense talent indicates.

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