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Will Calhoun: Life In This World

This record lacks meaningful musical substance. It also lacks coherence as an album statement. Pianist Marc Cary is a constant, but alto saxophonist Donald Harrison and trumpeter Wallace Roney come and go. Ensemble configurations and genres shift track-to-track. The mélange includes guest musicians from Mali, five different bassists, ethnic and electric instruments, digital devices and a vocal track.

The album is interesting, however, from two perspectives. First, it presents an unusual concept of the drummer as bandleader. Will Calhoun’s drums are so dominant in the mix that the normal ensemble balance is inverted. The drums are the primary subject, and the melody lines and improvisations of the horns and piano are the secondary accompaniment. Calhoun’s percussion instruments are beautifully recorded. His bass drum goes down deep. The concept would be more interesting if Calhoun were more into nuance and less into bashing.

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