Mike Clark's funk and jazz drumming is put to the ultimate test on this, his ninth recording as a leader, also showing his prodigious chops in bebop and organ combo soul-jazz. Various bands supply the accompaniment on selected tracks, with organists Jerry Z, Jeff Pittson, or Delbert Bump (a pseudonym?) at the center of the groupings. While not known as a composer, Clark's name does show up on four tracks, with the overall music hefty and fatback or hard swinging and exuberant. Where "T's Boogaloo" might be a signature tune in its hip chunky funk, Clark also enjoys angular melodies as in Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Dream" and the bopping "Turok Son of Stone." Going through continual countermoves of easy swing and fast, furious bop, R&B, or rock, Clark's ever-changing bands provide plenty of fuel for his imagination. Electric guitarist Rez Abbasi is most surprising; known for his ethnic fusion style, here he is squarely in the pocket. Rob Dixon is the constant, as his brawny, developing saxophone sound comes straight out of the Texas tenor tradition. Delbert McClinton even makes a guest appearance, singing the bluesy "Cry Me a River." The drummer turns more heads than normal with a perfect Max Roach imitation before launching into an electrified rip-snorting Head Hunters-like "Catlett Outta the Bag." Where Clark's previous album, Blueprints of Jazz, is a superior item, Carnival of Soul fits nicely with all of the work Clark has done, and further synthesizes his potpourri expertise in many idioms and subgenres of progressive modern jazz.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos