John Lurie is never short of good ideas. At times, though, one has to wonder if his vision doesn't exceed his grasp. Men With Sticks is a perfect example. While the idea of playing with a percussion ensemble is a good one, Lurie is not the sort of player who can pull off a 20-minute solo. This isn't a put-down necessarily. After all, Stan Kenton wasn't the world's greatest piano player. And like Kenton, Lurie's great strength is his genius for tight arrangements, the stop and go frenetics that mark his best work with the Lounge Lizards. Here, there's simply too much space for Lurie to fill, and too much time for him to get lost and devolve into repetition. On the positive side, both Billy Martin and Calvin Weston prove they have the chops to handle a project like this and Lurie is to be commended for giving them the chance. One only hopes that a horn player the likes of James Carter will give those guys a call.
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AllMusic Review by Rob Ferrier