Saturday, July 3, 2010

Abraham Laboriel: Guidum (1995)

(As published in Kamikaze ... )

Abraham Laboriel

Wynton Marsalis says that fusion isn't jazz, and he should know. But good fusion certainly has its share of jazzy moments, and Abraham Laboriel's Guidum is good fusion. Whether its appearing on the Christian-schlock label Integrity or its inclusion of songs called "Let My People Go" and "Out from Darkness" make it a gospel record is anyone's guess. But anyone with the good taste to have plunked for Koinonia's early-'80s gospel fusion albums, on which Laboriel played, should easily find Guidum a not-guilty pleasure.

What it does best is prove that, despite his years as one of pop music's busiest session bassists, Laboriel can command the spotlight plenty well on his own. Aside from the title cut and his solo-bass version of Henry Mancini's "Breakfast at Tiffany's," these instrumentals throb, glide, ricochet, and rock with a loose-limbed soulfulness usually associated with musicians half Laboriel's age.

Actually, a musician half Laboriel's age does play a role here: Laboriel's son, Abe Jr., who steals the show on several occasions with inventive and explosive drumming ("Out from Darkness"). And although the reedman Justo Almario and the keyboardist Greg Mathieson, whom Laboriel has entrusted with most of these melodies, won't have Wynton Marsalis changing his mind about fusion or the inferiority of electric instruments to unplugged ones any time soon, they might prove just the thing to lure fence-sitting listeners into a serious appreciation of Abe and Abe Jr.'s rhythmic muscle.

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