September 1997

Buckshot LeFonque
Music Evolution
Columbia Jazz

Branford Marsalis, heaven sent and hellbent, is on a mission to prove the long-suspected notion that music is a many-genred thing. On Music Evolution, the second album by his band Buckshot LeFonque, Marsalis touches base with a myriad of ideas: hip-hop replete with rap-bits (including Laurence Fishburne's patter on "My Way (Doin' It)," smooth-edged R&B tunes sung passionately by Frank McComb, and mixing up electronic and acoustic sources, jazz and fonque (David Sanborn makes a cameo), pop and rap. Suddenly, from another corner of the musical spectrum comes "Jungle Grove," with its flurrying hard-bop horn chart over a hyperactive drum machine part, and heated solo flights. Around other corners come the moody suavity of "Weary with Toil," the rap-in-Rio scheme of "Samba Hop," and the fetching Crusaders-esquerie of "...And We Out" to close. The sum effect of the album suggests a free-form radio show with an accent on African-American culture lineage. Even when the seams of cohesion threaten to rip apart, you can't help but admire the idealism underscoring the grooves.

Originally published in September 1997
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