Peter Apfelbaum & The Hieroglyphics Ensemble

Jodoji Brightness

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On its second album, saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum's worldbeat big band slips a bit from the tightrope it had walked successfully on its debut, teetering away from the genuinely attractive global jazz-fusion of the first album and toward the self-indulgent and overly impressionistic exoticism that lesser bands have already explored fully. In other words, as interesting as most of these compositions are in theory (highlife morphs into reggae segues into mbaqanga, all with brainy horn charts), they tend to be pretty tedious in practice. At the core of "The Glow" is the idea of heavy metal guitar on top of massed polyrhythms in the horns; cool concept, right? But as it turns out, there's nothing there: the music sits loudly in one place for five-and-a-half minutes until it stops. "Light Leaving the Spirit Bridge" (as one might infer from its title) is more of the same, as is "The Ankh." But "A las Estrellas (To the Stars)" ends things on a nicely focused and tuneful note. Jazz musicians will probably find lots to appreciate here. More casual listeners are more likely to find themselves impressed but bewildered.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 01:16
2 04:49
3 05:45
4 04:33
5 08:11
6 05:35
7 04:11
8 05:32
9 12:47
10 06:34
11 04:10
12 07:29
blue highlight denotes track pick