Various Artists

Sofistifunk: Jazzrock Club Classics

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Bottom line as to why this set is an essential compilation of '70s jazz-rock and funk? Where the hell else are you gonna find Billy Cobham's "Stratus" as the lead-off track followed by Azymuth's only great cut, "Dear Limmertz," and capped off for an opening batting order with Gong's "Shamal" -- and have it get even better from there? Oh yeah, here are ten jams that defined the best of the jazz-rock fusion thing because they concentrated heavily on the groove side of rock and the jazz side of groove. What's more, with the exception of the Cobham and Gong tracks, none of the choices here are obvious, but all of them are in the pocket: Jeff Beck's "Come Dancing," Herbie Hancock's "Spank-O-Lee" (and it would be rewarding to see the old guard of rock critics like Dave Marsh and Greil Marcus go at this dirty-ass redo of the old folk classic that gives it an entirely new meaning, far more pronounced and relevant than Sly Stone's when it comes to dealing with the urban myth society). But there's more too: Weather Report weigh in with "Cucumber Slumber" and "125th St. Congress," Mahavishnou with "Vital Transformation," Jestofunk's "If You've Got it, You'll Get It." There's also an acceptable Return to Forever jam that laid more deeply in the cut than on syncopation and arpeggio orgies in "Flight of the Newborn." Umbi Damiani's selection process culled the skank and slip out of the dead dogs files and sequenced them in an order that cuts a wide swath on the party floor for favorably re-evaluating a much-maligned part of musical history. So, what are you waitin' for? Break out the Mateus, pop the headphones on, and shimmy across the floor or join a crowd and see who gets out on the floor to throw down; you'll be surprised.

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