Jeff Coffin / Jeff Coffin Mu'tet

Mutopia

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AllMusic Review by

Jeff Coffin's work with Béla Fleck's Flecktones has only been somewhat reflective of his efforts as a leader. The saxophonist/composer is quite able in a more progressive, accessibly contemporary style to express his personalized music, which is in many ways substantive and cleverly rendered. While recent efforts have veered toward a commercialized approach, this CD with his Mu'tet bears distinct elements of the Jazz Crusaders and the first bands of Derek Trucks. No doubt the addition of a stout horn section on a few selections, and collaboration with the keyboardist and flute player Kofi Burbridge -- well known for his work with the Trucks band -- has a lot to do with how this group reacts and responds. All in all, there's some very hip music here, ranging from the 7/4 funk with dual electric bass guitarists on "Al's Greens" including a banjo solo from boss man Fleck, to "Move Your Rug" with varying beats in six and seven mixing up the complicated and simplistic horns with a New Orleans beat. The outstanding, developed, dramatic, Middle Eastern flavored "L'Esperance" is introduced by Coffin's resplendent, floating mbira, then his tenor sax and flute foreshadowed Burbridge's desert-to-jungle flute solo. "Turiya" is a calm, serene, and beautiful tribute to the late Alice Coltrane with Coffin on soprano sax and Burbridge on acoustic grand piano. The molasses slow "Sweet Magnolias" offers a legitimate blues framework for Coffin's legato tenor, and a bonus track, "Emma Ya," is a soul deep, light reggae tune. Trombonists Barry Green or Roy Agee are added for the funk-with-a twist track "Tag" or the Stax style soul pop cut "One In, One Out" respectively, with Burbridge jammin' on the Hammond B-3 organ. Agee, trumpeter Rod McGaha, and sousaphonist Joe Murphy expand the horizons of "Move Your Rug." Also present is electric bass guitarist Felix Pastorius, one of the twin sons of the legendary Jaco Pastorius, and fellow Flecktone, drummer Roy "Future Man" Wooten. The collective energy, team work, and top-drawer ability of Coffin, not to mention the diversity of the recording, is hard to deny. This might be the best effort yet for the Mu'tet, top to bottom.

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