Lester Bowie


The most radical conflagration that Free Jazz Pioneer Lester Bowie has ever perpetrated: his Brass Fantasy of the Spice Girls’ “Two Become One.” The Spicies’ own softcore brass is peeled away to reveal a literally lame melody, reducing even tuba hero Bob Stewart to stereotypical fart-waddling. Trombones steer surviving listeners into the boodwah, where trumpet strumpets issue a bootycall to arms (legs, etc.). Eventually, BF sonorities insinuate themselves so warmly, deeply, that I notice bum notes only in passing, and fondly, as if they were butt my lover’s cellulite. Mondo Beyondo!

Wannabe-endless “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” gets stopped, quickly but calmly, and shouldered aboard a tuba train, the better to pass through warm shadows of bolero and tango, before vanishing mysteriously. “Beeyutifull Pee-pull!” take back their title from Evita and all her escorts, rolling into and out of a shockingly loud parade drum— Manson as Masons, in freewheeling ceremony.

Biggie’s “Notorious Thugs” gets stripped of Bone’s graffiti harmonies (or complicities), revealing a lone hero-outlaw, bound to fall. Dean Bowman sings eloquently, stoically, fades out (an ancient story, still “in progress”). “Nessum Dorma” (Aretha pinch-hit for Pavarotti with it at the Grammys) features a trumpet in lonely contemplation of assured triumph (a male privilege thing). Then Bowie’s horn buddies remind him he’s winning the Maximum Babe, Turandot, and does he hosanna! Still, it’s kind of a . . . blues victory. Always was, really. (Lester’s got me checking out opera.)

“In the Still of the Night” revels in ’50s Rn’B’n’R’s glorious joke, which anyone with ears could get in on, even Beyondo mature regrets and loss of (some) innocence. To find out all the rest? Hey, buy the disc.