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March 2004

Children On the Corner
Rebirth
Sonance

Children on the Corner is a band of musicians associated with Miles Davis' electric period including Michael Henderson, Ndugu Chancler, Sonny Fortune, Badal Roy, Barry Finnerty plus keyboard player Michael Wolff (the only non-Miles man, though he's notched up road time with Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Airto and Cal Tjader). Rebirth (Sonance) is a live date that opens with Joe Zawinul's "Directions" and is an edgy brew that never really settles. The album is not served well by its poor mix. The audio balance between the rhythm-section players is particularly bad, which doesn't help an album that sets out to capture the spirit of classic Miles albums like Bitches Brew and On the Corner, and the soloists are pulled far too forward in the mix for comfort. Fortune's keening alto solo and Wolff's B3 solo that follows on "Directions," for example, need to be centered within the matrix of sound, not outside it. Wolff's keyboard playing is more glossy than gutsy, yet the concept of the band is good, even if the recording quality leaves plenty to be desired. It shows electric jazz has developed its own conventions, and like acoustic bebop, electric jazz is becoming circumscribed by style with electric jazz "tradition" of electric-era Miles and Tony Williams Lifetime spiced with a little Mahavishnu-inspired chops being the standards. Once again jazz's heritage is tending to overwhelm the present.

Originally published in March 2004
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