Picks and Pans Review: Trippin'

UPDATED 03/30/1992 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/30/1992 at 01:00 AM EST

Jean-Paul Bourelly

It takes a while to hear Bourelly for who he is, because when he first straps on a guitar and, even more, starts singing, it's hard to think of anyone but Jimi Hendrix.

He's got the wild, funky energy of Hendrix—the searing intensity on guitar and the floating, insinuating sexiness on vocals. "Garden of Love," "Supernatural," "Stranger" and the title cut all make you wonder if you're witnessing the second coming. Yet on these and the seven other pieces, there's a forward spin to the rhythms and harmonies that dispels any notion that the 31-year-old Chicago native is just a hippie-dippie (or, to use his phrase from "Trippin'," "freaky-deaky ") throwback.

Bourelly, it turns out, is a state-of-the-art guitarist who has absorbed as much from the skewed and fractured jazz-funk of James Blood Ulmer and the stabbing lines of Muddy Waters as from the man who spun "Castles Made of Sand." Bourelly evades pigeonholing. He has played jazz with Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones and funk of various kinds with Bell Biv DeVoe, D-Nice and Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince.

If in his solos he occasionally falls back on '60s rock clichés, he's repeatedly saved by the variety of his own compositions and sound textures and by the snapping-swiveling virtuosity of the bass-and-drum duos with whom he recorded: Reggie Washington with Tony Lewis, "F-Nation" Freddie Cash with Rodney Holmes, and Kevin Bruce Harris with Kevin "K-Dog" Johnson. Like Hendrix, who had Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell churning under his wings, Bourelly knows that without an ace rhythm section, a guitar hero simply can't take off. (Enemy)

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