Reuben Wilson

Blue Mode

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    9
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If Love Bug skirted the edges of free jazz and black power, Blue Mode embraces soul-jazz and Memphis funk in no uncertain terms. Opening with the cinematic, stuttering "Bambu" and running through a set of relaxed, funky grooves -- including covers of Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood" and Edwin Starr's "Twenty-Five Miles" -- Blue Mode isn't strictly a jazz album, but its gritty, jazzy vamps and urban soul-blues make it highly enjoyable. Reuben Wilson has a laid-back, friendly style and his supporting band -- tenor saxophonist John Manning, guitarist Melvin Sparks, and drummer Tommy Derrick -- demonstrate a similarly warm sense of tone. While none of them break through with any improvisations that would satiate hardcore jazz purists, they know how to work a groove, and that's what makes Blue Mode a winner.

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