World music has been a major influence on Roy Campbell; so it isn't surprising that the chance-taking trumpeter/flügelhornist would call this 2000 session Ethnic Stew and Brew. Leading his cohesive Pyramid Trio -- which also includes bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake -- Campbell combines mildly avant-garde jazz with African, Asian, and Middle Eastern elements. One of the more African-influenced tracks is "Amadou Diallo," an emotional piece that was inspired by the tragic shooting of an African immigrant in New York in the late '90s. (Diallo was shot 41 times by NYPD officers, who assumed he was reaching for a gun -- however, the immigrant turned out to be unarmed.) Meanwhile, "Impressions of Yokahama" has a strong Japanese flavor and features Parker on the shakuhachi -- a bamboo flute that has been used in traditional Japanese music for centuries (although the instrument was actually brought to Japan by the Chinese). While Ethnic Stew and Brew is slightly left of center, it is far from an album of atonal chaos. All of the songs have discernible melodies, and the Pyramid Trio's playing is more inside than outside. Ethnic Stew and Brew isn't Campbell's most essential album, but it is still an exciting illustration of his talents as both a composer and a soloist.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson