December 1997

B-Sharp Quintet
Tha Go 'Round
MAMA Records

Since the halycon days of the cool school, the West Coast jazz has been devalued musical currency. Of course, subscribing to this "truth" means leaving out a slew of cats (Gerald Wilson and Horace Tapscott, to name two) who didn't heed New York's siren call. The past five years have seen a real Cali renaissance with folk like Charlie Hunter and Blacknote-major talents all. In 1994, L.A.'s B Sharp Quartet released their debut disc Searching For The One. A thrilling blend of harp bop mannerisms and hip hop attitudes, the record was a promising beginning for a new group.

On the new Tha Go 'Round, B Sharp Quartet not only fulfill that promise, they take the music a quantum leap higher. On this new jammie, the quartet-Herb Graham, drums; Randall Willis, sax; Rodney Lee, piano; Osama Afifi, bass-have boiled the hip hop down to a base of phat funky rhythms and deep fried the modal grooves. The music on Tha Go 'Round inhabits that spirit-vibe dimension that was first traversed by Blakey, Miles' quintet, Herbie's Blue Note period and early Weather Report. From the Miles-meets-Zawinul moonwalk of the opening "Steppin'" to a reggae-fied, funkily-bopped "Confirmation" to their hyped, album-closing geometric dance with Monk's "Brilliant Corners," B Sharp Quartet deliver vital, cliche-free improvisatory performances. Time for some revisionism, Cali-style.

Originally published in December 1997
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