Rob Mullins

Dance for the New World

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One of the true unsung heroes of contemporary jazz, this diverse keyboardist has encountered poor luck with indie labels at almost every turn, building a frequently brilliant catalog that has never been properly marketed to the masses. If Zebra can't do it with this all at once elegant, funky, bold and often humorous dance, genre fans will be denied these pleasures once again. On a disc that incorporates rhythms of the world (samba, Latin, African), Crusaders-influenced soul, and a frenzied hodgepodge sampling tune called "Mullins World" which tries to make sense of the frenzied age of the information superhighway, the one remarkable consistency is the smart way Mullins interacts with horns. He and Wilton Felder capture a "Mercy Mercy Mercy" like vibe on the opener, "Obsession"; Eric Marienthal matches him note for note on the Latin sizzler "Island Girls"; Hollis Gentry's soprano adds eloquence to the laid back "Wednesday"; Greg Vail's tenor parties hard with Mullins on the one true relentless funk piece, "Bustin' Out"; and Tony Guerrero's real trumpet plays along with Mullins' keyboard horns on "To Begin Again." Pretty impressive collaborations, but Mullins saves his greatest duet for the urban-flavored title cut, which breaks in the middle for a transcendant solo by Mark Cargill after the two have already played in unison. Mullins' liner notes inform us that this disc is his attempt to reflect the craziness of the modern world, and he musically captures that vibe without getting self indulgent or inaccessible. Happily, he also finds a a moment in the madness for an affair of the heart, on the closing piano solo, "House of Broken Dreams."

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