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Shakespeare & the Blues — e.g., Rhapsodic
(Bandcamp no#, 2021, CD / LP / MC / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-10-22
What we have on hand is the first album by a New Orleans based trio that draws on elements of acid jazz, hip hop, and classical, in an open experimental setting, consisting of mostly instrumental cuts, though with some spoken word elements featured on a few tracks. The trio is Cam Smith playing drums and electronics, Bryan Webre on bass and electronics, and Cassie Watson Francillon on concert harp, with all three contributing to the spoken parts on this track or that, together making for an interesting chemistry of ideas like none I have heard before. After spending years playing all kinds of music in drastically different bands, Webre played with Smith in Lafayette, and when they both found themselves in New Orleans they began working together as Shakespeare and the Blues, first as a duo then as a trio when Watson Francillon came on board. The brisk one-minute opener “Past Is Prologue” introduces all of the players and their instrumentation, followed by the gently lilting “Emerald Glowing Figure,” where the harp seems to lead the drums, bass, and perhaps some guitar as well through a waterfall of sounds. Hip hop stylings come to the fore on “Wanton Phrases,” though the harp adds a classical element to the fusion of styles that certainly makes what they are doing unique. The spoken word element is first introduced on track 4, “Blinders,” the voice interspersed with electronic bleeps and distortions, and flowing seamlessly into “The Mechanics of Distance,” a five minute instrumental improvisation that follows it. Other standouts include the eleven-minute, two-part “Fad,” where other voices are introdiced in an almost comedic setting, the beautiful instrumental improv “Cellophane Trees,” and the thirteen-minute closer “Star Rubies” which has a little bit of everything going. All taken, e.g., rhapsodic offers an interesting twist of genre-blending sounds like no other.
Related artist(s): Shakespeare and the Blues
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