Steve Turre

Lotus Flower

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You might call Lotus Flower an act of relaxation after the strenuous exercise of the Steve Turre album, for Turre reduces forces and idioms to a more-or-less straight-ahead sextet and concentrates almost entirely upon the trombone. In doing so, he re-stakes his claim to being one of the outstanding voices on the trombone of his time, turning some lovely playing on "The Fragrance of Love" and "Sposin'" and some extremely agile bop work at a fleet pace on "Blackfoot" -- to cite two extremes. But this sextet has no ordinary front line; Turre shares the spotlight with a violinist (Regina Carter) and a cellist (Akua Dixon), thus deliberately managing to avoid the trumpet/saxophone axis entirely. Now and then, Turre also throws in a seventh element, Kimati Dinizulu's percussion or Don Conreaux's gong, to add exotic and spiritual flavors to the menu. Carter gets far more swinging time than Dixon on the album -- indeed, Carter's spiritual forefather seems to be Joe Venuti -- while Dixon gets typecast into the warm, lyrical role that cellists usually fulfill. Mulgrew Miller (piano, Buster Williams (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums) form the solidly mainstream rhythm section that is, however, occasionally asked to do unconventional things. Fortunately, there are enough off-center textures and quirks on this album to sustain Turre's yen for adventure in the '90s -- and on the rhythmically Balkanized "Shorty," Turre's conch shells make a welcome if brief cameo return.

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