In November of 1989, after ten years of California living, Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira felt the need to get back in touch with the free-music roots he established two decades earlier in New York City. A spate of slumberous L.A. studio sessions, in combination with a tired scene in his adoptive hometown of Santa Barbara, was beginning to take its toll on the creative percussionist. New York of the late 1960s bustled with musical vibrancy for Moreira. All night jam sessions with the likes of Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jan Hammer, Stanley Clarke, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, and Walker Booker were the rule for the artist. On occasion, even such heavyweight legends as Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley, Buster Williams, and Thelonious Monk would sit in. In an effort to shake off L.A. studio stupor and re-create the wonder days of impromptu dream team sessions, he invited long time jazz comrades Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Mark Egan, and Stanley Clarke to record improvised music with him in a local Santa Barbara studio. Jumping at the opportunity to play with their friends for the sake of playing, these musicians ended up producing the Killer Bees CD. Peppered with subtle overdubs by vocalist Flora Purim, saxophonist Gary Meek, and guitarist Hiram Bullock, Killer Bees is a set of nine tracks characterized by the sense of spontaneity and adventurousness that Airto intended to revisit. From the opening "Banana Jam," a track in which Moreira, Corea, and Egan experiment with sounds in an improvised section that eventually crescendos into a powerful bass and piano ostinato, to the concluding "Chicken on the Mind," a whimsical track that builds on the sounds of a barking dog and the cackles of Corea, this CD captures superb studio musicians playing out on a limb. If you are looking for the precise articulation of rigid song structures, then this CD may leave you feeling a bit unsatisfied. On the other hand, if you enjoy listening to evolving and amorphous forms full of mercurially virtuosic content, then Killer Bees will make you yearn for more projects that recreate Moreira's free-jazz jams of yore.
AllMusic Review by John Vallier