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Jean-Paul Bourelly: Trance Atlantic (Boom Bop II)

Guitarist Jean Paul Bourelly’s Trance-Atlantic (Boom-Bop II) is a recording that you will suspect is good just because of the lineup of musicians. Blues cornetist Olu Dara is on deck, as are saxophonist/flutist Henry Threadgill, bassist Reggie Workman and the late Lester Bowie’s brother, trombonist Joseph Bowie. Bourelly, an exceptional guitar player who has an impressive recording history of more than 20 years, doesn’t waste any of the talent he has amassed on Trance-Atlantic.

A sequel to 2001’s Boom-Bop, this new CD is funk and jazz-rock stretched to their natural limits. If it isn’t Bourelly’s boastful playing that consumes you, then the vocals provided by Abdourahmane Diop will. Diop, the son of a griot (storyteller) from Senegal has plenty to say on songs that embrace and seek tradition and culture like “Cool Papa N’Diaye” and “Fatima.” But complex funk-rock with world rhythms is what you get mostly here, and on songs like “The Spirit Wheel,” the strong rhythms powered by Bourelly’s caustic guitar playing takes over completely. Jean-Paul and his brother Carl are all about conjuring their music at times, too, and Bourelly is capable of invoking the Midwestern electric blues of Chuck Berry and the progressive rhythm and blues of Jimi Hendrix. “Blowin’ Omni,” a tune that recalls some of Miles Davis’ fast-paced fusion on albums like The Man With the Horn, is superb.

Strangely, Trance-Atlantic isn’t a guitar recording; the album’s fine horn players take it over. Bourelly’s hard edges never cease, but there is no need for an apology even though this music can wear on you some. But on “Harmofunkalodica” Bourelly proves again and again that he deserves the space to stretch out behind any and all capable beats. His playing is clean and crisp; his band only makes him sound mightier.

Originally Published