Signs of Life

Multi-instrumentalist/bandleader Apfelbaum neatly covers a lot of stylistic terrain with his 15-piece Bay Area big band in Signs of Life. With three drummers, three guitarists, and a traditional section of horns and axes, Apfelbaum blends conventional jazz charts with the sounds of Africa and the Caribbean. On the sumptuous ”Walk to the Mountain (And Tell the Story of Love’s Thunderclapping Eyes),” funk riffs and hopping horn-lined rhythm parts recall African star Fela Kuti as much as they do James Brown; ”Folksong #7” puts the classic Americana of ”Michael Row the Boat Ashore” on the exotic South African coast. No mere hangers-on to the world-music bandwagon, Apfelbaum’s ensemble is an open-eared, satisfying experimental hybrid. B+

Signs of Life
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