The Uptown Band

Waiting for Her

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Considering their status as one of the Northeast's most versatile and heavily booked live bands, and the sizzling funky-jazzy chemistry the seven members generate on their eclectic debut recording, it's no surprise to learn that Erich Cawalla and Jenifer Kinder (leaders and vocalists of the group) got married on-stage in the summer of 2010. Sometimes it's tricky translating live energy to the studio, but the band, trying to expand its base beyond its home region of Pennsylvania, makes the transition with flair. Truly celebrating the magical and expansive stylistic possibilities of being indie, the Uptown Band is (in an exuberant way) all over the map, starting with two songs that display the unique individual strengths of Cawalla and Kinder. The funky, midtempo "You Treated Me Good" is an infectious showcase for Cawalla's dual talents as a saxman and an old-school R&B vocalist. Kinder follows with a sensual lead vocal on "I'm Breathless," a sweet romantic slice of pure pop. The emotional centerpieces of the 12 track are the next cuts, the sizzling, sax-driven horn instrumental jam "Waiting for Her" and Cawalla's charmingly sweet cover of "Hey There Lonely Girl" (picture-perfect falsetto? Check!). The group's storied versatility flows from there, with the lighthearted, Kinder-led '80s-flavored dance tune "Come Back to Me" giving rise to gentle cabaret jazz (&"That's All"), bluesy funk/soul, splashes of brass-tinged reggae (&"Since I Don't Have You"), and passionate smooth jazz (the sax ballad "I Can't Get Started"). While the other five members of the Uptown Band mostly play a strong supporting role, pianist David Fenwick is given the melodic spotlight on the wistful, optimistic closer "Anthem." This is the type of versatile album that is only possible in today's world where artists can work free of corporate and genre constraints. To say it's both fun and creatively refreshing would truly be understating the matter.

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