Greyboy

Freestylin'

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San Diego resident and hip-hop head Andreas Stevens caught the rare groove bug in the early 1990s. His search for rare vinyl eventually led him to the Groove Merchant: the San Francisco record store run by Jodi and Michael McFadin. When the husband and wife team decided to expand operations, establishing the Ubiquity label, Stevens, aka DJ Greyboy, was one of the first artists to offer his services. Freestylin', his 1994 debut, would be a Ubiquity best seller for years to come and did much to establish the initial outlook of the label. The bulk of the material finds its source in the funk/jazz/hip-hop melting pot that is acid jazz/rare groove. Though Greyboy does lay down some fine templates -- tightly constructed bass and breakbeat grooves from his impressive record crates -- it's his co-conspirator, tenor saxophonist Karl Denson, who steals the show. Denson combines with Harold Todd's flute to deliver the melodic blueprint of tracks like "Ruffneck Jazz" and "On the Strip." It's the saxman's soloing, however, that really impresses. The album title track, with its crowd samples, brings the live flavor, and Denson responds with an impassioned improvisation, blazing a trail for Todd to follow in. The Denson-penned "Who's Gonna Be the Junkie?" is a standout. Todd straps on his sax to join the author for this tenor showcase, which has the two soloing over an excellent, lopping funk groove navigated by Derek G.'s bass of lead. Guitarist Marc Antoine also receives prominent billing, lending impressive six-string displays to "Lite Bake" and a reading of Melvin Sparks' "Texas Twister." It's Greyboy, however, who gets the last word in, signing off with the drifting vibes of "Outerlude" and concluding a promising debut.

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