Lester Bowie

Serious Fun

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Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy had one basic joke that was repeated over and over again: the idea that any pop tune, including contemporary ones, could be turned into jazz and interpreted by the unusual group. Serious Fun is one of the ensemble's earlier records and the material is better than usual, with two Billie Holiday songs (including a highly expressive "Strange Fruit") and Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Inflated Tear" co-existing with such songs as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "Smooth Operator," "Don't Worry, Be Happy," and Marcus Miller's "Da Butt." Brass Fantasy, comprised here of four trumpets, French horn, two trombones, tuba, two drums, and percussion, was always an intriguing concept, and on this particular project it is mostly quite successful and full of Lester Bowie's wit.

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