Shilts

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Saxophonist Paul "Shilts" Weimar's pedigree as a retro-funk sideman is so extensive and impressive that anything less than a mindblowingly groove-happy solo debut would be a disappointment. He's played behind legendary jazz artists (Nancy Wilson, Mel Tormé) and classic soul groups (the Temptations, the Four Tops), and then became best-known for his touring with the Brand New Heavies and Jamoroquai. From there, he became a founding member of Down to the Bone, which brings all types of wild funk elements into smooth jazzland. He goes crazy from the beginning of the title track, blowing heavy tenor over a wild shuffle groove, Simon Carter's retro keyboard elements, and Tony Remy's echoing vocoder. "Mind the Gap" is all wah-wah and thumping disco beat energy, with Shilts' horn dancing atop the house vibe. Shilts doubles on feisty alto and tenor over a "Superstition"-like keyboard groove on "There's No Wonder," then rolls over a jumpy tropical percussion groove on "Short Island Ice Tea." Shilts is firmly grounded in the present, but he's also honest about his love for classic blues and soul, infusing the blues-drenched "The Word Is Out" and brassy "Stax of Sax" with a total '60s soul sensibility. "Tequila Frenzy" then takes this out to an even further extreme. Rare is the sax recording that features no meltdown ballads, but it's clear that Shilts just wants to keep the party rolling relentlessly. With apologies to Prince and Rick James, it just doesn't get any funkier than this.

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