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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Afro Straight

Delmark DE 5001



1. Mr. PC
2. United
3. Afro Straight
4. Central Park West
5. Woody 'n You
6. Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
7. God Bless the Child
8. Footprints
9. Old Man Blues
10. Juju

Ernest Dawkins - Alto sax, tenor sax, percussion
Corey Wilkes - Trumpet
Willerm Delisfort - Piano
Junius Paul - Bass
Isaiah Spencer - Drums
Ruben Alvarez - Congas, bongoes, chimes, shaker (tracks 3, 4, 8)
Greg Carmouche - Congas (tracks 1, 6)
Greg Penn - Congas (tracks 3, 10)
Ben Paterson - Hammond B3 Organ (track 7)


Ernest Dawkins is a saxophonist who has mainly been associated with the avant-garde side of jazz exemplified by the Chicago AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). On this album, however, he turns more to the mainstream with a selection of post-bop tunes performed in boppish style. In fact most of the tunes are old bebop warhorses which are in danger of becoming hackneyed. They include three compositions by Wayne Shorter and two by John Coltrane, as well as a couple of originals by Dawkins.

The result is a typical hard-bop session, with Dawkins' powerful saxes joined by Corey Wilkes' punchy trumpet. What makes it slightly different is the presence of several percussion players who add congas and bongoes to the mix. The trouble is that this makes the album neither outright bop nor Latin jazz but a rather confused mixture of the two. None of the tunes has a Latin flavour, so the miscellaneous percussion mostly breaks up the rhythm which one might expect to be straightforwardly swinging. Tracks like Old Man Blues (a straightforward blues) and God Bless the Child (a feature for sax and Hammond organ) benefit from doing without the extra percussion.

The other problem is that neither the saxist nor the trumpeter are particularly impeccable soloists. There are too many fluffs and faults in their solos, which may make the musical listener wince. It seems as though they both carry with them a devotion to free jazz which spills over into their "straight" playing. Pianist Willerm Delisfort is better - playing solos which have precision and structure.

While this is an acceptable slice of post-bop, it's not the best slice I've ever tasted.

Tony Augarde

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