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The Omar Hakim Experience: We Are One

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We Are One is state-of-the-art fusion, suggesting the ’80s never ended. A recording of style, sonics, intermittent tenderness and virtuosity, it’s a smooth, if at times hollow showcase for drummer Omar Hakim, a veteran session man who has played with everyone from Weather Report to Dire Straits.

The 10 overly polished tracks, by Hakim solely or co-written with keyboardist Scott Tibbs or bassist Jerry Brooks, effectively demonstrate his unusual style, simultaneously busy and nimble. Try “So There,” a cut weighted with a descending, repetitive riff Hakim keeps interesting through his circular, ever-shifting drumming. A similar strategy informs “Walk the Walk,” a frenetic strut with Hakim in hyper-drive, guitarist Chieli Minucci in Jeff Beck mode and Tibbs stirring the synthesizer pot. Like too many other tunes here, however, “Walk” is schematic, its drama dependent on Hakim’s touch-his solo midway through startles like a gunshot-rather than a melody. Fortunately, a few cuts, such as the pretty “With Every Breath” and the more sentimental, less successful title track, stress shapeliness more than style. We Are One is expertly played-it features fellow fusion authorities like Hakim’s wife, Rachel Z, on keys and guitarists Minucci and Jimi Tunnell-but it’s rarely distinctive or memorable.

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