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Great Pretender
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Lester Bowie (trumpet); Fontella Bass, David Peaston (vocals); Hamiet Bluiett (baritone saxophone); Donald Smith (piano, organ); Fred Williams (acoustic & electric basses); Phillip Wilson (drums).
  • Recorded at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany in June 1981.
  • Personnel: Phillip Wilson; William Parker .
  • Liner Note Author: Bert Noglik.
  • Recording information: Greenpoint Studios, New York, NY (04/1991); Jazzb?hne, Berlin (04/1991); Greenpoint Studios, New York, NY (1982); Jazzb?hne, Berlin (1982).
  • Photographer: Hyou Vielz.
  • The late Lester Bowie was and remains one of the most fascinating of the post-Miles Davis-era trumpet players. Whether in the protean Art Ensemble Of Chicago, or in his parallel solo career, Bowie explored the brass instrument's past while continually updating it. 1981's THE GREAT PRETENDER chronicles the beginnings of his Brass Fantasy (also the occasional name of his band) period, in which Bowie explored blues, R&B, gospel and pop tunes with a mix of veneration and cheerful derision. Bowie and company affectionately state, berate, break down, and build up the title tune, the Platters' '50s classic, with equal parts gospel-charged bluesy fervor and cerebral examination.
  • Other highlights include the Latin-tinged, melancholic "Rios Negroes," and the eerie, ethereal "Oh, How the Ghost Sings," where Bowie conjures restless (though friendly) spirits from the great beyond, where Pink Floyd meets the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. Bowie's trumpet crackles, blares, blats, smears, and sings, recalling early 20th century New Orleans brass bands. THE GREAT PRETENDER is a genuine treasure, proving avant-garde music can be jolly and user-friendly.
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