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Buckshot LeFonque

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When Branford Marsalis decided to stir up a little trouble in 1994 by juxtaposing and fusing mainstream jazz with hip-hop rhythms, rap, R&B, rock, reggae, and half a dozen other idioms, he chose to present his new music under the group name Buckshot LeFonque. This fanciful moniker is actually a resurrection of a pseudonym Cannonball Adderley used in the 1950s when moonlighting on a record label other than his own. The group's eponymous first album, a brilliant, playful, musically rich realization of this anything-goes fusion unfortunately drew a lot of fire from critics in every genre, a situation that Marsalis lamented on the group's equally eclectic yet less striking second album Music Evolution. Nevertheless, Marsalis was so enthused by his new group that he left his high-profile job as bandleader of the Tonight Show in part so that he could tour with Buckshot LeFonque in 1994-1995. The 1997 edition of Buckshot, as heard on Music Evolution, contains a nucleus of Marsalis (saxophones, keyboard, and drum programming), DJ Apollo ("wheels o' steel"), Frank McComb (vocals, keyboards), Carl Burnett (guitar), Russell Gunn (trumpet), Reginald Veal (bass), Rocky Bryant (drums), and 50 Styles: the Unknown Soldier (rap vocals). Of all of Marsalis' diverse pursuits, none project his unique combination of virtuosity and irreverence as completely as Buckshot LeFonque. ~ Richard S. Ginell

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