With rap’s man of the moment, DJ Premier, bringing the beats and Branford Marsalis bringing the chops, Buckshot Lefonque was one of the more anticipated of an endless stream of hip hop-jazz fusion projects. Surprisingly this album falls short of expectations. “Buckshot” is the perfect tag: The artists simply ricochet from pleasant Elton John covers to MOR jazz to backing Maya Angelou while she reads poetry.
Still, the album has its moments. “Breakfast at Denny’s” kicks into high gear when Premier’s scratches play hide-and-seek with Branford’s horn. And in “No Pain, No Gain,” the music burns with a stinging attack of beats, bent guitar strings and butt-wiggling funk. In the end, Buckshot Lefonque goes from being a cool idea to be-coming cool music only when Branford and crew let hip hop’s noise erupt. (Columbia)