W.E.S. Group

W.E.S. Group

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AllMusic Review by

W.E. Smith, the powerful bebop tenor and soprano sax player and namesake for this band (nee the Will Smith Quartet, changed so as not to be confused with the Fresh Prince), has a rich sense of history. Not simply the greats of jazz, whose traditions he carries on, but also that of his family ties. He honors his not-so-distant ancestors with songs that have a Pan-African them; tells a brief tale in the liner notes about his father's sheet music store in Chicago; and includes a wonderful yellowing pic of his father and other employees of the store on the cover. Musically, there are energetic grooves throughout, provided by the rhythm section of Kris Funn (bass) and Mark Prince (drums) interacting with the constant pitter-patter of percussionist Ekendra Das. "Timelessness" offers a smooth, horn-texturing melody over the constant fluctuations in rhythm, while "How Many Times" cools the pace almost to a waltz. The range of moods on the collection is typified by two adjacent tracks, the wild, Latin, and tribal rhythm-spiced title track and the thoughtful, reflective "Journey Within" (which features a rolling drum line and interesting soundscaping). The only tune without a Pan African flavor is the opener, "Lumbee," which was inspired by the music of Native America; its influence aside, the listener can just expect a lot of energetic live jazz playing.

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