Fra Fra Sound - Kultiplex
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Fra Fra Sound
Pramisi-Munich (

Calling Amsterdam home, Fra Fra Sound was founded in 1980 by Surinamese electric bassist Vincent Henar. He presides over a seven-member group (guitar, piano, trumpet, flugelhorn, tenor sax, congas, percussion) whose sound is a hybrid blend of Surinamese, Latin American, Caribbean, pan-African, funk, soul and jazz. "Franca Lucia," the album opener, moves smoothly between South African jazz sonorities, a brassy sound that owes something to Weather Report, and the electric-guitar school founded by Pat Metheny. "Les yeux des Tamashek" sets up a tension between talking drums, brass and bass, but fails to really open up. "Para United" begins with a spirited call-and-response chorus over an all-percussion foundation, then breaks into an extended instrumental improvisation that never strays from familiar pathways. Technical proficiency and mastery of a variety of au courant styles seem to account for the group's positive critical reception and popular appeal. Kultiplex speaks to those unprepared or disinclined to break with middle-of-the-road "world jazz" for something more. - Michael Stone

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