Carlos Malcolm

Bustin' Outta the Ghetto

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Carlos Malcolm is most remembered for his early- and mid-'60s ska music. But by the time of this rare 1970 album, he was playing funk, or more precisely funk-soul-jazz, with only traces of ska or reggae influences. The all-instrumental LP (reissued on CD in 2003) is competent and affable period funk, but not the kind that sticks out as anything more than enjoyable background music. Aside from the expected James Brown flavorings (most noticeably in the title cut), there are nods to Ramsey Lewis, and perhaps Latin-soul-jazz greats like Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers and Les McCann's work with Eddie Harris here and there. What makes this most separable from other generic instrumental funk recordings of the early '70s are those moments when the ska rhythms and horns are heard as spice. Their presence, however, veers from strong ("Truck Full of Soul," "Funky Junction," "Rockin' in My Rocket," "Bounce What You Got") to virtually undetectable, with the rhythmic accents sometimes more in a standard Latin-Caribbean bag than something identifiably Jamaican. Sometimes a bluesy harmonica ups the fun quotient, but there's a shortage of compulsive riffs, with the moody Latin soul-jazz of "Your Kiss Your Touch" rating as the strongest try.

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