Conjure / Kip Hanrahan

Bad Mouth

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Who but Kip Hanrahan could take the finest percussionists in New York (some might say the world), a few highly respected authors, and one or two incredibly well-respected fusion musicians to fill in the gaps, and make them sound like stoned Midwestern high-school students? Though there are some genuine moments of "cool," the overwhelming impression left by Hanrahan and company is one of post-boheme self-importance. The surprise presented by the American Clavé label is that the clavé barely makes a guest appearance. The body of this two-disc set consists of funky, laid-back bass guitar vamps over a backbeat, laying the ground for the prose of Ishmael Reed and Hanrahan himself floating freely over the top. There are moments in the 12 long tracks that touch upon something truly profound, or at least interesting. Unfortunately, the poetry, in reaching for something great, often overextends and falls flat. The musicians, all of whom have the power to push, pull, and bend time like magicians, are seriously underused. With players like Dafnis Prieto, Robby Ameen, and Horacio "El Negro" Hernández on deck, a wise producer would have laid down something other than 12 tracks of P-Funk-style backbeat. Is Bad Mouth a bad record? No, it's not, but it certainly was not very well thought through, or well developed. Hanrahan has a talent for bringing together truly amazing musicians. The next step would be to include a truly great producer on that list.

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