Evolution Revolution

Basin Street

Thirty years ago, along with Herbie Hancock and Bennie Maupin, bassist Paul Jackson and percussionist Bill Summers were in on something great. When Herbie’s Head Hunters came out with the legendary songs “Chameleon” and “Watermelon Man,” the jazz world underwent a shockwave it and other genres have been feeling ever since.

Along with drummer Mike Clark, Jackson and Summers have been carrying on the name and the music for years now. While Evolution Revolution simply cannot maintain the wallop that their work with Hancock did at the time, this trio is still worthy of their name. They’ve enlisted the help of Maupin, Vinx, Nicholas Payton, Irvin Mayfield and a cavalcade of other accomplished musicians to create an enjoyable fusion album.

At times, like on “Headhunting” and “Martell on the Rocks,” their sound becomes way too smooth for any fan who finds those flavors detestable. There are other times when their funk (“God Made Me Funky” and “Fonkyfried”) is way too tired for its own bones and should be promptly put in a retirement home. But, on the whole, there is a lot to be recommended here. Summers’ percussion is stunningly complex (you absolutely need to check out the title track), adding depth, color and soul to the music. He really shines here with his African polyrhythms that provide the backbone to the whole project. Without him, this would be a smooth jazz jellyfish lying dead upon the genre’s tepid waters.

“Slick It” is a fantastic song reminiscent of the Herbie days. “Woody Shaw” and “Take No Prizzonerz” are also well worth the price of admission. Vinx proves he’s still got it on the stunning ballad, “On the Shores of Amore.” “Loft Funk” is lively, and “Yekola” is a jump-up Afropop celebration.

All in all, a fine recording.

Basin Street Records: http://www.basinstreetrecords.com/

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