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Spirits Alike

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Album Review

In the late 1980s and early '90s, the Leaders was a part-time all-star group consisting of trumpeter Lester Bowie, tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman, altoist Arthur Blythe, pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Don Moye. The new Leaders only retains Freeman and McBee, with trumpeter Eddie Henderson succeeding the late Bowie and altoist Bobby Watson, the lesser-known but talented pianist Fred Harris and drummer Billy Hart taking the places of Blythe, Lightsey and Moye. While Bowie in particular is missed, Eddie Henderson does a good job of filling in, and the new Leaders are of the same high quality as the original group. The music, all originals from bandmembers, ranges from advanced hard bop to hints of the avant-garde, from bluesy material to a pair of duets by Freeman and McBee. Watson and Freeman in particular consistently take solo honors although all of the musicians fare well. Recommended.

Biography

Formed: 1985

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s

The Leaders was a veritable supergroup of leftward-leaning, mid-'80s jazz stars. Its front line was comprised of three of the era's important personalities — trumpeter Lester Bowie, from the decade's most critically acclaimed band, the Art Ensemble of Chicago; alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe, whose Columbia albums of the time almost (but not quite) brought free jazz a measure of popular acceptance; and tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman, who made a series of records that melded the best of mainstream...
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Spirits Alike, The Leaders
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