Funky T. Cool T.

Lester Bowie's N.Y. Organ

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Funky T. Cool T. Review

by Don Snowden

Funky T. Cool T. is round two culled from Lester Bowie's three-day organ groove band and the diet is pretty much taped leftovers. Ensemble heads and group sound are in short supply -- the music is basically solos, mostly by Bowie, that gauzily float over Amina Claudine Myers' organ and a Famoudou Don Moye-Phillip Wilson foundation that suggests grooves more often than it plays them. You could say the music doesn't match the sum of its parts, except that two of the six parts are all but missing in action. Steve Turre takes three short solos, two of which leave absolutely no trace, but the voice-tones-with-mute one on "Cool T." at least registers. James Carter does a great job of measuring the rhythms to the opener, "Funky T.," his tenor floating and stinging and fitting into the groove...and gets cut off just as he was getting warmed up. And he's basically gone after that. "Funky T." rides over Myers' ghostly toned funk riff and Bowie heavily into his imitating-the-human-voice trumpet style. And it's worth the price of admission when the duo goes pure gospel church on "When the Spirit Returns," with Myers comping gloriously behind Bowie speaking in trumpet voices. "Cool T." gets close to a traditional organ group ensemble sound before launching into an easy-rolling Myers solo with a light-touch left-hand bass. But the standard "What's New?" is so minimal it barely exists, and "Afternoon in Brooklyn" gets an energy injection from percussion and drum flurries (finally) but just kinda drifts atmospherically along. You have to dig for the sporadic good stuff on Funky T. Cool T. and it's all down to Bowie and Myers -- if you want a sample of early James Carter as the youngblood among these graybeard vets, The Organizer is better and overall it's a more substantial disc, anyway. But it really seems like Lester Bowie threw this group away -- too bad, because the combination of his sensibility, this genre, and these players had a lot of potential.

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