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March 2002

Alex Bugnon
Soul Purpose
Narada Media

Delivering keyboard prowess with a soft contemporary sheen is Alex Bugnon, whose Soul Purpose (Narada 724438-11134-2-4; 55:59) offers neatly constructed urban grooves with twists of Latin, gospel, hip-bop and pop R&B. Bugnon himself is the main attraction, whether offering rolling, understated melodic chops ("Around 12:15 a.m."), stiff-fingered rhythmic play (the hopping, street-beat "Faraway") or meditative, melodic solo work (a haunted take on Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood"). But the music really catches fire when creative arrangements kick in-the Brazil-beat-meets-electronica "Rio.com" sounds like a postmodern carnival, for example, and the gospel-toned title track jumps to the beat of a driving, irrepressible rhythm section. This musical creativity is employed to touching effect on "Sunset Over Manhattan," a contemplative tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. In the liner notes, Bugnon describes a specific image he observed driving through New York, of smoke "filled with angels" rising from the ashes. His composition matches that image with a gentle melodic motif and beautiful flute work by Vincent Henry, creating a feeling of release and of hope.

Originally published in March 2002
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