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Sonic Trance

Posted on

Sonic Trance

Current Status:
In Season
Nicholas Payton
Warner Bros.

We gave it an A-

It’s gotten to the point where you can’t throw a copy of Herbie Hancock’s ”Head Hunters” without hitting a neo-trad jazz musician flogging some dubious ”fusion” project. If half were as free-spirited, funky, and unashamedly freaky as this one, there’d be less reason to scoff. Taking off from Miles Davis’ experiments circa ”Bitches Brew,” Payton attempts to funnel a world of jazz experience through his trumpet, from early New Orleans braying and hard-bop barreling to Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat and the electro-hybridizations of Jon Hassell and Ben Neill. Throw in broken-bottle percussion, synth noise, and Payton’s woozy, Satchmo-style dancehall scatting, and you have one crazy jazz house party. SMOKIN’ ”Cannabis Leaf Rag 1” begins with sampled LP surface noise, recalling — and then forgetting — ”Maple Leaf Rag” as it drifts off the ragtime-space continuum. History lessons can be fun.