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Hand on the Torch
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Performer Notes
  • US3: Mel Simpson (keyboards, programming); Geoff Wilkinson (samples, scratches, programming).
  • Additional personnel: Rahsaan, Kobie Powell, Tukka Yoot (rap vocals); Tony Remy (guitar); Ed Jones (soprano & tenor saxophones); Steve Williamson (soprano saxophone); Mike Smith (tenor saxophone); Gerard Presencer (trumpet); Dennis Rollins (trombone); Matthew Cooper (piano); Marie Harper (background vocals).
  • Recorded at Flame Studios, London, England.
  • Contains 16 samples, including "Crisis" (as performed by Art Blakey), "Steppin' Into Tomorrow" (as performed by Donald Byrd), "Goin' Down South" (as performed by Bobby Hutcherson) and "Straight No Chaser" (as performed by Thelonious Monk).
  • HAND ON THE TORCH combines samples of 1960's Blue Note jazz/funk grooves with 1990's production and live musicians. Samples of music by Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, John Patton, Donald Byrd and Grant Green are interspersed throughout this release.
  • Hip-hop/jazz fusionisters Us3 have forged the most elaborate union between the styles since the early days of Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest. Blue Note's vast catalog gives them a huge advantage over several similar groups in terms of source material, and classic sounds by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, and Herbie Hancock provide zest and fiber to their narratives. Indeed, when things falter, it's because the raps aren't always that creative. They are serviceable and sometimes catchy, but too often delivered without the snazzy touches or distinctive skills that make Quest and Gang Starr's material top-notch. But when words and music mesh, as on "Cantaloop" or "The Darkside," Us3 show how effectively hip-hop and jazz can blend. ~ Ron Wynn
Professional Reviews
Entertainment Weekly (1/14/94, p.55) - "...What could have easily degenerated into arty posturing is a compelling, danceable delight..."

- Rating: A

Down Beat (1/94, p.49) - 3 1/2 Stars - Good Plus - "...The raps are fresher than the beats (the new beats, that is)...the hard-bop oldies...save the show by stealing it...."

Vibe (12/93-1/94, p.158) - "...HAND ON THE TORCH is that rare jazz-rap mix that takes jazz's rhythmic kick to the front of the house..."
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