After exploring many sophisticated and progressive funk elements that aided Alex Bugnon in finding his own sound, the internationally acclaimed pianist returns to a sound that is more laid-back and straight to the point. However, this return continues to move Bugnon forward as one of contemporary jazz's main men and should ensure his advancement toward greatness. On Free, Bugnon delivers his sultry mix of exotic rhythms, soulful melodies, and passionate harmonies with just the right accompaniment of contemporary jazz musicians. "Free" opens the set with Bugnon's cool R&B feel on the piano and Vincent Henry's haunting free jazz soprano saxophone riffs. Their freedom of speech is distinctively crafted and the collaboration entices you to keep listening. Bugnon's laid-back piano groove on "Downtime" is the perfect undercurrent for the band's proven abilities. Melvin Miller's cool muted trumpet adds another layer of innovative phrasings to the overall effect of this relaxing ambience. On "Tomorrow (Better You, Better Me)," Bugnon continues to show off his stylistic range (remember that he studied at the Paris Conservatory, Mozart Academy, and Berklee School of Music) in a virtuosic display of fancy fingertipping. As his fans will realize, Free is significantly different from Bugnon's 1989 debut, Love Season, and his chart-topping Soul Purpose because, overall, each song offers its own amazing standards for contemporary jazz as a vehicle for soulful free improvisation.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein