In the 1960s and 1970s, many jazz critics hated anything that had a groove or a backbeat. But a lot of the groove-oriented soul-jazz, funk-jazz, and organ jazz that critics routinely trashed back then has held up well over the years -- in fact, much of it continued to be influential when the 21st century rolled around. This 2001 release obviously owes a debt to the funkier jazz of the 1960s and 1970s; however, the production tends to favor modern hip-hop and dance music techniques (samples, loops, etc). So ModeReko -- which consists of trumpeter John D'earth, guitarist/bassist Tim Kobza, saxman Bobby Read, and drummer John Molo -- is blending the past with something more recent. ModeReko's grooves are funky yet quirky and eccentric, and more often than not, the quartet's strange sense of humor is an asset. Nonetheless, this self-titled debut isn't flawless. ModeReko sounds overproduced -- at times, the production overshadows the musicianship. And while the CD is usually intriguing, parts of it seem unfocused. But all things considered, this is a promising debut. Even though ModeReko is slightly uneven, it has more ups than downs and makes the listener want to keep an eye on the oddly funky group.
by Alex Henderson