The second release from the rotating ensemble under Kip Hanrahan's direction, Conjure once again unites author Ishmael Reed's trenchant and sometimes hallucinatory words with a wide range of musical styles. Among the large and varied cast one finds musicians as diverse as erstwhile soul stylist Bobby Womack, Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli, and avant trumpeter Olu Dara. As on the first album, the song structures are essentially blues- and pop-based, ably supported by both a contingent of extraordinary Latin percussionists and the gorgeous electric bass work of Steve Swallow. On the whole, the compositions aren't quite as striking this time out, but there are a couple that really stand out: Allen Toussaint's "Running for the Office of Love" with a ravishing vocal by Clare Bathe is easily imaginable as a fine pop hit, and Carmen Moore's "Bitter Chocklate" is indeed both bitter and beautiful. If this release doesn't quite possess the crackle of its predecessor, it remains a funky and enjoyable session, well worth hearing by fans of almost any genre.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick