Bill MacPherson
 
San Diego based guitarist Bill Macpherson has drawn on his formative years living in Zaire with missionary parents to create an instrumental style that is part pop, part fusion, and all native-tinged. Like Paul Simon on Graceland, he has over the course of several albums (including last year's promising Many Rivers and the recent Coconut Juju) made celebratory African music palatable for anyone who might be resistant. Though this latest joint effort with longtime bassist Nee Sackey and pals continues, Macpherson's trend to be the standout on a disc not solely bearing his name, his energy shines right through. And yet, of all his projects, this time he infuses the least amount of that continent's frisky bounce into the mix. Loping toe-tappers like "Limpopo Crossing," with its feral percussion and frolicsome twists, remind us of Macpherson's first love, but he also finds solace digging more into a Yellowjacket-ish experimental fusion vibe, with pop tinges. Using Russell Ferrante on "Samurai" enhances this effect. He also draws on the Metheny influence for a few moody gems and goes pure pop-jazz with Nelson Rangell's soaring sax on "YST." Perhaps recognizing that he could gain a wider audience by enhancing the native vibe with a little genre crossing, Macpherson achieves perhaps his most eclectic heights yet. Now he's got to settle on whether to market himself as a solo act or a band.