Masters of Groove

Masters of Groove Meet Dr. No

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Masters of Groove is an all-star project featuring organist Reuben Wilson, drummer Bernard Purdie, and two considerably younger, still up-and-coming musicians -- guitarist Grant Green, Jr. and bassist Tarus Mateen. (Mateen is known in the jazz world as an upright player, but here he plays five-string electric.) The concept is simple: music from or inspired by Dr. No, the very first James Bond film, released in 1962. The group does justice to the movie's Jamaican flavor, dipping into reggae and calypso rhythms on "III Blind Mice," "Jump Up," and, of course, "Under the Mango Tree," a melody that surfaces time and again in the film. But there's also a steady supply of funk, as there must be when veteran soul-jazzer Wilson and R&B session master Purdie are on hand. The nicest twist is "Bond II" -- the universally recognized Bond theme over a laid-back 12/8 feel that has come to be known as the "Purdie shuffle." Wilson's own "Crab Key Lullaby," a brief and juicy organ solo finale, closes out the album on a swinging note. All along, one wonders whether they'll give listeners that classic Bond signoff: a sustained E minor/major ninth chord. Sure enough, it's the last sound you hear, sampled right from the soundtrack. This sort of danceable, improv-based worldbeat will certainly appeal to the jam band crowd. The playing is excellent, but some of these loosely structured tunes go on well after the point has been made.

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