It's hard to believe that this, though an ensemble effort to be sure, is multi-reedist J.D. Parran's debut as a leader. Parran has carefully crafted this disc to give it a diasporan musicological approach, incorporating material from jazz, R&B and new musical landscapes, leavened with such distinctive colors as Tony Cedras' accordion, which lends a distinctive air of Louisiana to the proceedings. Each track is a distinctive whole, with no time wasted on egotistic soloing.
Surprises abound, particularly in the form of fresh arrangements of Curtis Mayfield's classic "Gypsy Woman" and Louis Jordan's "Early In The Morning." Sources aside, jazz is the color of this true love's hair. Shirley LeFlore's wizened poetry brings lyrics to three other tracks, most notably the down home "Put'Cha Haints On Me," a bare essence tale to be sure. The inclusion of Roy Nathanson's "Imitation of a Kiss," sung beautifully by Joan Bouise, as well as vibist Bill Ware and bassist Brad Jones in the band casts a Jazz Passengers feel to the date, though this is a thoroughly original soundscape.