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World Music CD Reviews North American

World Saxophone Quartet

By Cristina Cerullo
Published March 30, 2007

Political Blues
Justin Time

The musicians of the World Saxophone Quartet hold nothing back on Political Blues. As the title might suggest, the lyrics crush President Bush and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. The group’s rage over the current political climate translates into passionate lyrics, but despite the anger behind their endeavors, it's the music that stands out. Founding members Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett and David Murray are joined by noteworthy guests, including guitarist James Blood Ulmer, drummer Lee Pearson and bass legend Jamaaladeen Tacuma. While the album has a traditional blues core, its bold arrangements lend themselves to many other genres. Both the title cut and “Hal’s Blues” feature lush, textured harmonies, while their take on Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” is layered with edgy sax lines. “Amazin’ Disgrace,” a politicized version of “Amazing Grace,” introduces vocalist Carolyn Amba Hawthorne, whose powerhouse pipes are complemented by dizzying horns and Tacuma’s melodic basslines, making the track an emotional focal point.