Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Olu Dara

  • In the World: From Natchez to New York [Atlantic, 1998] Dud
  • Neighborhoods [Atlantic, 2001] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

In the World: From Natchez to New York [Atlantic, 1998] Dud

Neighborhoods [Atlantic, 2001]
Though the 59-year-old jazzman sired Nas and references the "embryonic state of the hip hop," for him that was "young children's music." And please, he's no "griot." Dara mines a more class- and nation-specific cultural mode: Afrocentric local color in the manner of PBS and Black History Month (release date: February 20). But where 1998's In the World proceeded directly to limbo on the rough-hewn cobblestones of its noble intentions, here he gets somewhere. More direct rhythmically, more considerate melodically, discerningly observed and recalled until it gets all poetic on our ass, this is at least as educational as Maya Angelou, and much more fun. One thing, though. Dara's warm trumpet tone is compared to Roy Eldridge's. You think maybe he could learn to sing with Little Jazz's nonchalant authority? We wish. B+

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