Electric Bebop Band

Reincarnation of a Love Bird, Vol. 71-81

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The Electric Bebop Band is a very different ensemble on its second album than it was on the first. Apart from drummer and bandleader Paul Motian, the only member remaining from the debut is guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel; the place of his erstwhile counterpart Brad Schoeppach has been taken by Wolfgang Muthspiel, while saxman Joshua Redman has been replaced by two new players, Chris Potter and Chris Creek. Bassist Stomu Takeishi is gone, his slot occupied by new jazz elder statesman Steve Swallow. In addition to all of these changes, Don Alias is now supplementing the groove on percussion. But while these personnel changes have made a marked difference in the ensemble' s sound (which is a bit more refined this time out), Motian's approach remains the same: take familiar jazz standards and present them in the context of an electrified group in which guitars play a central role. In this case the songs include numbers by Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Charlie Parker, as well as originals from Motian and Muthspiel. On Monk's "Skippy," the guitars take the lead, playing an extended intro before everyone chimes in for the head proper; Swallow's astringent bass sound and creative walking line are especially noteworthy. The group's rendition of "Ornithology" seems strangely bloodless, but they do themselves proud on Miles Davis's "Half-Nelson" and on a joyfully headlong version of Gillespie's archetypal "Be-Bop." The element of surprise that charged the proceedings on the debut is missing this time, but this is still a very fine album overall.

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