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Jean-Paul Bourelly: Freestyle

A brilliant post-Hendrix-by-way-of-Ted Dunbar guitarist with a near-deuce’s worth of albums, Bourelly has never been signed to a U.S. major. Two reasons: Bourelly’s Bluwave Bandits boombastic collisions of rock/jazz/blues riffage and funk/ hip hop rhythms was deemed as “underground cult;” he couldn’t sing worth a lick. Whatever.

Six years after a Japan-only release, comes Freestyle (DIW Records, DIW-877, 57:39) by JPB side project band Ayibobo. A true African diaspora roots posse of Haitian singers/rhythmatists (Wilfred Ti Do Lavaud, C# O’Boyer, Gaston “Bonga” Jean-Baptiste), American jazzbos (Craig Harris, Vincent Henry, Rob Robinson) and DC go-go drum master Ju Ju House, Ayibobo’s music is a scalding pepe soup of township jive, voudou chant, afrobeat, highlife, go-go funk, hip hop ciphers and snarky, slithering guitars. A bit of a hit and near-miss affair, Freestyle justifies your dime with tracks like the reggae guitar chank-a-danking, Fela/Maceo sax shape-shifting “Afrika” and the very Osibisa/Hugh Masekela/Santana-rocking “Spirits.” A new world.

Originally Published