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June 2001

Jorge Sylvester Afro-Caribbean Experimental Trio
In the Ear of the Beholder
Jazz Magnet Records

There are no cliched romantic notions of breezy island music on this bold adventure led by Panamanian alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester. With his edgy rhythmic pulse and diamond-hard tone prancing atop drummer Bobby Sanabria's furious polyrhythms and Donald Nicks' molten-hot bass lines, Sylvester has crafted an album that boasts the same sort of Herculean, calypso-driven improvisations of Sonny Rollins and the lofty intentions of Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake's 1970s Arista Freedom dates. Nicks' resonating bass and Sanabria's infectious rhythms buffer Sylvester's propensity for the outer reaches, as demonstrated on the lively calypso "Sly Mangoose" and the rhapsodic ballad "Corazon Rebelde."

The trio keeps the passion hot throughout In the Ear of the Beholder, though their hyperactivity can become a bit draining. Still, the majority of the album's dancing rhythms will compel you to keep coming back.

Originally published in June 2001
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