Tom Scott & the L.A. Express

Smokin' Section

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On Smokin' Section, credited to Tom Scott & the L.A. Express, the veteran saxman can't resist mixing in a few cover tunes with the stylistically diverse array of original numbers. He doesn't add too much to the arrangement of the folk-rock classic "Ode To Billie Joe," but who can argue when it's sung by the sandpaper-and-honey voiced Patty Smyth? Scott also functions as soloist/harmony line player as Phil Perry does his soulful best with Restless Heart's "I'll Still Be Lovin' You." Scott and his cohorts are all over the map the rest of the time, capturing everything from the now retro '70s flavor of the original L.A. Express to Scott's early leanings towards quartet jazz to -- as the title promises -- flashy brass funk and mindtripping fusion. Scott's alto honks above the swaying, horn section hook of the title track, then slinks into the background for much of the swampy Delta blues cool of "Cruisin' Bayou," which blends Alan Pasqua's Fender Rhodes-flavored synth riffs, Buzz Feiten's wailing steel guitar, and a soundscape by Luis Conte and Alex Acuna. The somewhat jarring rhythmic switches take the listener from the smoky mood of "If I Could Cry" to the swaying funk of "The Beat Is On" (pushed along by bassist John Pena), but the real fun comes on "TCB in E," when Scott, Pasqua, Feiten, and drummer Harvey Mason rock on and trade blistering solos for ten minutes, making '70s Rhodes-based jazz fusion relevant to 1999.

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