Even though this live date was recorded in South Africa with an all African backup band, it still finds René McLean committed to the same kind of hard bop he played with his father, bebop legend Jackie McLean and Woody Shaw. With a rhythm section augmented by three extra percussionists propelling him, McLean charges headlong through a set of hard-driving tunes. His lines swing hard with unrelenting forward motion. Hotep Idris Galeta, the band's other major soloist, and a regular bandmate of McLean's, swings just as hard, though he airs out his lines more before hammering home the climax. Vocalist Theaster Gates' four appearances add an element of diversity to the proceedings. He has a versatile delivery, waxing soulful on "Pretty Words," dramatic on "Freedom Danced," and loose and funky on "Sista Lesotho." On that last number he elicits a relaxed, down-home performance that sounds more like the work of a blues band than a jazz ensemble. Of course with all that extra percussion power, it's hardly your usual jazz band. McLean sets the percussionists loose on "Harold's Boss" and "Third World Express," letting them strut upfront and showcasing the polyrhythmic textures they add to the entire performance.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by David Dupont