Babatunde Lea – Level of Intent
Level of Intent
(Motéma – 2003)
by Paula Edelstein
San Francisco-based drummer/percussionist/composer Babatunde Lea not only fits the four point African Diaspora profile to a “t” (griot, dervish, shaman, and provocateur), but his rhythmic prowess as a traditional jazz drummer/percussionist is definitely something to take notice of. LEVEL OF INTENT, Lea’s exceptional follow-up to SOUL POOLS, is not only a sure indication of his outstanding percussive techniques, but serves notice to any lingering doubters that his composing skills and abilities to interpret serious jazz standards are no joke. Lea, who is often incorrectly categorized as a “world music” musician, intelligently pulls off one of the best straight-ahead jazz recordings of 2003 accompanied by such great jazz masters as Kenny Barron, Hilton Ruiz, Jon Faddis, Frank Lacy, John Purcell, and Charnette Moffet, among others.
Included in his repertoire are “Billy’s Bounce,” written by Charlie Parker, Monk’s “Ask Me Now” co-existing alongside such great originals as “Level of Intent” and his straight-ahead Latin Jazz/rock piece titled “Fools and Babies.” On the title track, Lea is subtle, brushing and shading the smoky sax riffs of Purcell with just the right drumming textures and colors. By contrast on “Billy’s Bounce,” he’s in-the-pocket on congas and swinging right alongside Faddis’ excellent trumpet registers and Moffet’s great bass lines. He’s on fire on the hard-bopping mambo swing of “Father of Dreams,” simultaneously working both the congas and his drum kit to the hilt! This is an excellent recording, filled with excitement, a variety of jazz styles, and the trademark sound of one of the world’s greatest rhythm masters of the century. LEVEL OF INTENT is now available at all retail and online merchants.