Veteran organist, composer, and arranger Dave Siebels sounds like he is completely comfortable and at home as the guest with pianist Gordon Goodwin's acclaimed Big Phat Band. Contemporary funk, modern big-band charts, and a little bebop form the core of the band, as it plays a mix of standards, pop tunes, and seven originals penned by Siebels, including six arrangements by Goodwin, and two smaller-ensemble cuts. The music is fairly predictable, but well-revered soloists like guitarist Grant Geissman, tenor saxophonist Brian Scanlon, trombonist Andy Martin, alto saxophonist Eric Marienthal, and flutist Sal Lozano pop up and increase the band's creative quotient. Siebels himself prefers eighth notes when he jams or plays behind the big band as on three of his tunes, the sleek funk-to-bop opener "The Coupe," the Brecker Brothers-type skunk funk "Not That There's Anything Wrong with That," and the cool walking "Da Blues," where he plays more unison lines with the horn section. "Sort of Like a Samba" is actually Brazilian-based with a quintet only, while "The Eleventh Hour" is another typical funky number, with Goodwin switching to tenor sax for a solo. There is a credible version of Neal Hefti's classic cool organists' favorite "Girl Talk" (with Geissman) and a rousing, fun take of Lalo Schifrin's boogaloo groove tune "The Cat." Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" is a clever adaptation, especially in its complex introduction, as different key changes are strung together before going into the familiar straight funk tune everybody knows. The big band and small ensembles unfortunately lose momentum during "The Gospel According to Hammond" and "I Love You Even More Again," tunes that it is difficult to express much enthusiasm about. While Siebels is a competent organist, he's in the lower third of favorites. A trio date would be welcome to hear how he can effectively stretch out with a more bare-bones combo, so listeners can assess his true colors.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos