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Cacophony seeks an audience

Fade to Cacophony: Live!
Fade to Cacophony: Live!
By Jean-Paul Bourelly and the BluWave Bandits

Evidence Music: 1997


This review first appeared in the May 17, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

Ornette Coleman meets Jimi Hendrix. Or maybe James "Blood" Ulmer on a serious caffeine binge. It's difficult to pin down guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly in mere words; the man is a walking, talking, soloing adrenaline rush.

Hendrix is definitely a big part of the mix, but there's so much more. There's Ornette, for starters – but Ornette's mid-'80s electric stuff. And former Ornette student Ulmer. And the Ohio Players and the Meters and every other serious hard funk outfit; that's the beat behind Bourelly. Rap, too, makes its way into his vocals; hip-hop is in the rough spirit of the whole sound.

Still, even with all that, you, the reader, have no idea what Bourelly is about. Let's try this: If you like musicians like Carla Bley and Henry Threadgill, Living Colour or John Scofield, then this CD is definitely worth the risk of finding something so out there you don't like it.

As modern as he is, though, Bourelly is a bit of a throwback in that he's a black American who prefers to reside in Europe, a la a whole slew of American jazzsters from the 1950s and '60s. Not much of his recorded output – a half-dozen albums or so on a variety of overseas labels – seems to have made it stateside, which is too bad because Bourelly is a monster.

Obviously, Bourelly is an acquired taste. But his funky punk jazz is as vibrant as anything you'll listen to in this lifetime.