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Hamiet Bluiett: Bluiett’s Barbeque Band

This is a really loose album. You get the feeling that there’s little organization to it, that it’s a hodgepodge of R&B, gospel, and avant garde jazz-with even a poetry reading and a children’s chorus. Bluiett, best known for his baritone saxophone work with the World Saxophone Quartet, explores all the sonic range of the horn here: the overtones of overblowing; the squeals of “false,” upper register notes; the flabby, mooing subtones; and various earth-shaking low notes and surreal sounds of nature. On “Body and Soul,” the lone standard (unless you count “Precious Lord,” sung by gospel singer Amba Hawthorne), he plays bass saxophone; sad to say, this embarrassing track should never have been released.

The band consists of Donald Blackman (keyboards), Kenny Davis or Calvin Jones (electric bass), Ronnie Burrage (trap drums), Chief Bey (hand drums), Miss Hawthorne (vocals), and Shirley LeFlore (poetry reading). The rhythm section lays down a heavy seven-four beat on “Oasis/The Well” and a solid rock beat behind Miss LeFlore on “Give Me Rivers” (her lone appearance). The children add an appealing touch to “Nanna/Ena Brown,” but Bluiett sounds too gruff for the context.

Originally Published