Jafar Barron

Jafar Barron: The Free-Bop Movement

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Gosh, wouldn't it be lovely if great jazz artists would just stick to the music they do best and leave out pretentious touches that just distract listeners from the main dish? Trumpeter Jafar Barron and his band kindly bless listeners with an absolutely marvelous collection of funky, swinging, and thoughtful jazz compositions. The opening track "Old Buddha Happy Buddha" darts marvelously around, fusing old-style Miles Davis-like bebop with the Fender Rhodes harmony of Farid Barron, blending a taste of the '50s with the '70s. So why is it necessary for Oskar Castro to offer spoken-word spiritual claptrap that has nothing to do with the music before it starts on several tunes? It's fine for a musician to express his spirituality, but this stuff really distracts, like performance art poetry before a pure expression of real jazz. "The Buddha Monk Stomp" is percussive and whimsical, and "onthedownlowinvisiblemanincognegro" features avant-garde textures that reflect elements of African-American culture -- but of course first there is a rap interlude that is simply annoying. "Jewels and Baby Yaz" features a cool horn duality by Jafar and saxman Lamont Caldwell over a moody Rhodes line, creating a dreamlike state where jazz can reign. "Warm and Pretty, Pretty Warm Thing" is a low-key, ambient duet for the most part between plucky bassist Michael Boone and Farid Barron, until Jafar chimes in with his smoky trumpet. Strip away the pretentious extras, and this is a great throwback to several eras of true jazz.

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