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World Music CD Reviews Africa

BIG BLACK

By William Bloomhuff
Published March 3, 2006

Ethnic Fusion
MUTABLE

Originally released on vinyl in 1982, Ethnic Fusion was way ahead of the curve. Long before neo-hippies and their drum circles, Djembes and, Big Black were exploring and mastering complex rhythms on a variety of percussion. While Big Black effortlessly moves from wawaco to bata and other rhythms, classical guitarist Anthony Wheaton strums and picks with calculated abandon. It sounds fresh, improvised and spontaneous. The 10-minute "Trinidad" is a high-powered jam that sees Wheaton in a prog-rock vein, with Big Black matching licks so tight and in the pocket you would think these guys are a couple of twins.  San Francisco's 1750 Arch Records had the vision to somehow bring these two talented cats together and roll tape. There's nothing on the shelves like this at the moment. Twenty years after its initial recording, the African-classical grooves of Ethnic Fusion are back and maybe now we're ready for it.