Larry Gittens

Dual Identity

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The veteran trumpeter and keyboardist made his mark on pop music playing for years with Stevie Wonder and Kool & the Gang, but his smooth jazz-oriented debut reflects influences far beyond R&B. This might be disappointing for fans expecting loads of funk (who will be appeased with the chunkier grooves of "One 4 Mo"), but those who appreciate more subtle jazz and Brazilian music will appreciate it. Gittens and his band immediately seduce listeners with the Jobim influence of the frisky samba "Moon Over Sonoma," which finds his restrained fl├╝gelhorn drifting sweetly over Rob Bacon's bright acoustic strumming. "Let Me Love You" is a more romantic excursion along these lines, adding muted trumpet and the lovely soprano sax harmony of Michael Lington. An obvious tribute to the Crusaders' pianist, "Joe's Sample" blends light funk, playful female vocals, and Najee's lush guest flute lines with Gittens' tremendous versatility on trumpet, organ, and Fender Rhodes. Gittens also has a strictly romantic side, displayed with cool affection on the dreamy and atmospheric "Town by the Bay." Pop fans will also enjoy his trippy, ambient percussive twist on "Good Vibrations," which features an organ foundation and a drum line that grows louder by the second. The disc would be stronger without all of the fine but ultimately unremarkable vocal tracks.

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