The Codetalkers

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One in a long line of bands for the infamous Col. Bruce Hampton, the Code Talkers provide Hampton with his most sympathetic ensemble since the Aquarium Rescue Unit, though at times they sound like a low-grade version of the latter. The band's debut release, a live recording, captures the Code Talkers' versions of a number of Hampton standards, including the spirituals "Working on a Building," "Fixin' to Die," and "Yield Not to Temptation," and Hampton originals like "No Egos Underwater" and "Basically Frightened" (which contains the hilariously deep insight "I wake up in the morning and know that this is the only planet with chickens/I am basically frightened"). Hampton co-fronts the band with banjoist/guitarist Bobby Lee Rodgers, who contributes a number of original numbers to the set (including "Ferry Boat" and "Niagara Falls"). Rodgers' numbers, by comparison, are confusingly straightforward, making one wonder if they are the punch line to Hampton's joke or if Hampton's songs are a punch line to Rodgers'. In any event, Rodgers (along with drummer Nick Buda and bassist Ted Pecchio) fares much better as an instrumentalist, giving the music an air of jam band improvisation not evident in the Fiji Mariners, Hampton's previous group.

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