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May 2001

Jean-Paul Bourelly with Archie Shepp and Henry Threadgill
Boom Bop
Jazz Magnet Records

After more than a decade of providing some of the most riveting post-Hendrix guitar arsenals this side of Eddie Hazel, and a multifaceted career that includes working with the likes of Miles Davis, Cassandra Wilson, Muhal Richard Abrams and Lawrence "Butch" Morris, Jean-Paul Bourelly is still roundly ignored in jazz-critic polls. Nevertheless, not being in the spotlight has its advantages, such as being able to follow one's creative sprit. Witness Bourelly's latest album, Boom Bop, where he collaborates with a handful of Senegalese percussionists as well as iconic saxophonists Henry Threadgill and Archie Shepp, resulting in a visceral album of Afro-psychedelia that's as passionate as it is probing.

At first listening to Boom Bop, Bourelly's dense chords and high-wired wails, and Reggie Washington or Big Royal Talamacus' subatomic bass playing, seem too jarring alongside the protean polyrhythms and Abdourahmane Diop's lead vocals. But the music begins to make ultimate sense with repeated listens.

Bourelly's once staccato, Hendrix-inflected vocals give way to more of an elongated Afro-Arabian phrasing on Boom Bop, but Bourelly's deep delta-blues roots are firmly intact as evidenced by the eerie "New Afro Blu" in which Bourelly sings of a deceitful lover alongside Diop's fervid, chantlike singing. Other blues-drenched Afro-psychedelic charms include the percussive instrumental "Kinetic Threadness," which features some fine alto work from Threadgill, the dreamy "Tara" and the thumping "Silent Rain."

While it's far-fetched that Boom Bop will make Bourelly a household name in the U.S, it will undoubtedly solidify his credentials as one of the most inventive and under-recognized guitarists of our time.

Originally published in May 2001
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