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Album review: 'Joy'


Benjamin Boone with The Ghana Jazz Collective


Origin Records

When saxophonist Benjamin Boone—a professor at California State University, Fresno—traveled to Ghana to study as a Fulbright Scholar, he never expected to record an album. But one night at an Accra bar he encountered The Ghana Jazz Collective, a group of musicians as fluent in American jazz as they were in West African traditions. The resulting album is a product of this wonderful merging of cultures. If the great title tune, "Joy," seems familiar, it was written by the late Rochester multi-reedist Gerry Niewood.

Drummer Frank Kissi is a master of the polyrhythms that pulsate under the album's tracks. Bassist Bright Osei gives a fresh, thumping, funky twist to Herbie Hancock's classic, "Maiden Voyage." Pianist Victor Dey Jr. and saxophonists Boone and Bernard Ayisa shine throughout. Vocalist Sandra Huson sings gorgeously on Boone's tune "Without You," but her more intriguing contribution is a frenetic vocalese on Boone's wild composition "Slam."