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Steve Turre
Lotus Flower
Verve CD 559787, 1999 (61:07)

Relaxing the 'bone

Ben Ohmart

Wow. When the CD started, I admired its energy and semi-big sound, but I wasn't sure how much I'd love it because I'm not from the "violin appreciation society" side of jazz. I guess I've mellowed through brain-washing so much through the years, that I need a sax in order to survive and feel whole. When the title track, "The Lotus Flower," began, I was feeling small and cold.

Then. I woke up. "The Organ Grinder" makes use of all these instruments at once. Violin, cello and trombone are exquisite, making odd sounding chords that might shock your grandmother's sense of jazz, but this is like a meal eaten with a wooden spoon. You know there are splinters in your tongue, but the wood is so  good for you. Delicious!

At times, I thought I was listening to music for the Jeeves series in "Chairman of the Board." But for me, the middle and end of this album are where it's at. "Passion for Peace" is like the gentle opening to a modern opera. In fact, much of this album sounds as if it could pass for classical if put in the wrong bin. "Goodbye" treats your ears that way, a beautiful peace of work that is as sad as it is perfect. Rumbling piano and soft, solo trombone right out of the Depression.

"Blackfoot" however puts things back into jazzy perspective, since, after all, when's the last time you heard a shakin' drum solo in a Philip Glass creation? Yep, Lewis Nash pulls out all the drumsticks on this one and proves he isn't just sitting at the back there.

Brilliant performances I'd say. "The Fragrance of Love" is six minutes of falling asleep after a long day. It's not even getting your shoes off. It isn't the sort of wonder, delight, black sunlight that you want to drive your car to. Pull it over. Relax.


Get it. I'll count to ten. If you love jazz–especially the smooth stuff that goes on thick and melts easy–you won't wait until I get to three.

performers  Steve Turre, trombone, sea shells; Regina Carter, violin; Akua Dixon, cello; Mulgrew Miller, piano; Buster Williams, bass; Lewis Nash, drums; Kimati Dinizulu, djimbe and percussion; Don Conreaux, gong;

songs  The Lotus Flower · Chairman of the Board · The Inflated Tear · The Organ Grinder · Passion for Peace · Sposin' · The Fragrance of Love · Blackfoot · Goodbye · Shorty

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