Break'n Da Rulz!

The Jazz Crusaders

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Break'n Da Rulz! Review

by Jonathan Widran

What a shame that Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson didn't have enough confidence in their legendary trombone/sax chemistry to feature it in the forefront more often. Instead, they relegate themselves (and the jumpy, soulful groove tracks behind them) to supporting roles behind not simply overtly commercial vocals, but super-cheesy ones at that. On "Keep That Same Old Feeling," they tarnish a sharp horn tradeoff with pointless female vocals that remind us we're "jamming with the Jazz Crusaders." Henderson himself hurts a hip new arrangement of "(You've Got) Personality" by singing the lead himself, while "Party Joint" wastes a cool, marching brass sound with a repetitive vocal line that sounds like it came from a bad '70s funk record. And how could even two legends help us take Muzaky covers of classic bubblegum pop hits like "Mmmbop" and "Gloria" seriously? But there is great news amidst the miscalculations: four picture-perfect smooth jazz/funk gems which function here as a welcome oasis. On "Egyptian Nites," Felder's George Howard like silky soprano lines weave in and out of easygoing bone lines, Giovanni Guido's slick electric guitar lines, and crunchy retro-R&B grooves. Henderson and Felder combine on "Southern Hospitality" and "Turn on the Red Light" for a playful big-band sound over thick throbbing synth basslines and bluesy key riffs by Bill Steinway. And while "La Salsa De La Funk" features a few too many spacy synth sounds, the vibrant Latin rhythms and catchy dual horn melody keep it memorable. Here are some good "rulz" of thumb for next time: axe the vocals and crummy covers and give us more of the instrumental magic.

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