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  • Jonathan Widran

STIX BONES/BOB BEAMON, Olimpik Soul

For veteran drummer/producer Stix Bones, titling his wildly infectious third album fusing jazz, soul and hip-hop Olimpik Soul isn't just about cleverly capturing the intense, explosive athleticism of the music which ranges from densely percussive, hard grooving brassy funk to sensual urban jazz and improvisational piano-driven trad jazz. It’s based on his collaborative pairing on several tracks with Olympic gold medalist Bob Beamon, legendary for his world record in the long jump at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and now a percussionist making an otherworldly recording debut at the age of -77!


Not surprisingly, Bones – backed by his powerhouse, genre-transcendent ensemble The BONE Squad, an acronym for Brothers of Noble Excellence – released as the album’s lead singles two of the tracks that most prominently highlight Beamon’s rhythmic talents. But while the shimmering, high intensity jam “Leap” (featuring solos by Beamon and pianist Densen “Meighstro” Curwen) and the dreamy twist on William DeVaughan’s “Be Thankful” artfully display the album’s range of moods, they’re just an open door to an expansive sonic experience.


One of the set’s other notable highlights is the bass intensive (courtesy of Albert Brisbane), socially conscious “Price of Freedom,” featuring the spoken and sung words of another prominent 70something artist, Abiodun Oyewole from the legendary spoken word collective The Last Poets. Other key selections include the vibrant, richly percussive title track (featuring solo improvisational magic by Curwen and saxophonist Melvin Smith), the sultry, smooth jazzy, pianocentric romance “My Lady,” the blistering, punchy Tower of Power-influenced “Funkatonic” and hypnotic, lightning-paced “Monday Madness,” highlighted by the surreal tandem energy of Beamon vibing first with Curwen and then even more intensely with Stix. Decades after jumping 8.9 meters, Beamon’s still reaching incredible heights!

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