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Jazz Warriors: Afropeans

Afropeans is one of 2008’s most exciting releases. The second album by the Jazz Warriors (London saxophonist Courtney Pine’s 15-piece band) juxtaposes Pine’s trademark genre-blending with the immediacy of live performance. It relies heavily on rhythms and orchestrations from West Africa-but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Commissioned for the 200th anniversary of Britain’s slave-trade abolition, Pine’s suite ironically honors the diaspora that resulted from that very practice. Elements of classical piano (“Remercier Les Travelleurs”), ska (“Blak Flag,” Harry Brown’s trombone uncannily echoing Jamaican godfather Don Drummond) and Afro-Cuban (“Abolition Day”) meld with hand percussion, traditional Malian melody and horn-centric Afro pop from the likes of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti.

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