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Postcards from the Highwire

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This hard-to-categorize group formed in the late 1980s to provide musical accompaniment for the theatrical juggling troupe, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, but the Kamikaze Ground Crew’s mix of jazz and other styles stands on its own. Postcards From the Highwire is an expansive, finely programmed double-album with a good balance of inventive blowing and sharp writing, long and short tracks, and originals and covers. Two brief, atmospheric pieces, “Bells 1” and “Bells 2,” open each album, and three compositions with a habanera rhythm nicely punctuate the set, giving it a well-drawn shape. Standouts include “S’albufera,” with its lovely, cycling horn arrangement and a vibe that moves from low-key to white-hot and back again, and a soulful, imaginative interpretation of Robert Johnson’s “I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man.” (There’s also a sweet cover of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Everybody Is a Star.”) “O Mistress Mine” — the only cut with singing — sets the words of Shakespeare’s poem to old-timey jazz comprised of female vocals, ukulele, mellow horns, and brushed drums. “Habanera 3,” with its accordion-laced references to tango (not to mention a tuba-propelled reggae section), brings this excellent set to a close.

Postcards from the Highwire, Kamikaze Ground Crew
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