Jeff Coffin / Jeff Coffin Mu'tet


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We've heard of quartets, quintets, sextets, etc, but "mu'tet"s? That's the multi-saxophonist's way of covering the many different ensemble switches and guest personnel appearing on this wildly wonderful, genre-defying effort, which was made possible by the hiatus of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, of which Jeff Coffin has been a member of since 1997. The energy of the up-tempo tracks -- which range from the brassy New Orleans "second line" party tunes "Move Your Rug" and "Better Do Your Thing" to the hip-hop soul-jazz of "The Mad Hatter Rides Again" -- is so intense that you never want it to come down. When DJ Logic is working the turntables and Tyler Wood is doing the B-3, we be jammin' for sure. Thus, the dreary if well played "Circle of Wills" crashes the party with an unfortunate thud -- but only temporarily, with the in-from-outer-space, seven-minute "Hatim" to the rescue. The song has a trippy African percussion vibe, moody bassline (by bandmate Victor Wooten) and creeping ambience, weird but cool as Béla Fleck's banjo plucks along with machine generated voices; the only disappointment here is the way too esoteric use of Kirk Whalum and Coffin's formidable dual sax talents. Coffin switches to flute on the folksy title track, which features a kids' choir, then steps aside as slide guitarist Pat Bergeson simmers with gospel intensity on the Coffin composition "Old Jack Craw" (which features no woodwind). Coffin's flute on the lyrical "As Light Through Leaves" is probably his most melodic playing on the whole disc, and his bluesy sax on "Wobble" makes for a fun-loving closer. All over the place? Sure. Self-indulgent? Maybe. But take away a track or two and the open-minded listener has probably never had this much crazy fun on one collection. So get over it.

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