Down to the Bone

Spread the Word: Album III

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People who complain that today's contemporary jazz is a bit too smooth need to get the word on this outfit and in particular its third disc, which follows in the tradition of British acts like Brand New Heavies that blend acid jazz, jazz, pop, retro soul, modern R&B, and (dare we discern) a little disco? The funky and bluesy bounce and throb of the opening cut, "Keep on Keepin' On," is hard to resist. Mixing brass and the piano riffs of Neil Angilley creates an hypnotic effect over a punchy retro soul guitar flavor by Tony Remy. But the core tune is driven by the alto sax of Adrian Revell. So many elements, a simple description can't contain them all. "Sound as a Pound" opens with some modern synth effects and a croaking bassline combined with Remy's retro rhythm guitars; the lead is given to Angilley's playful jazzy piano melody, and a horn section comes in after a few bars to echo his jumpy spirit. "Bridgeport Boogie" is like a classic Crusaders tune, all dancing horn melody over Rhodes and electric organ for that perfect simmering '70s sheen. Interesting that the tune named "Righteous Reeds" begins with such a dramatic percussion jungle; the horns are fine, but the least dynamic part of the song! "The Backburner" begins the same way, giving percussionist Satin Singh a dramatic showcase for himself. "Downtown Shuffle" is all wah-wah guitar, pounding bass energy, and whimsical brass that soars to the heavens. A lot of instrumental albums these days take a breather for a radio-ready ballad, but these guys might consider such a break unimaginative or downright blasphemous. So might the listener who keeps on boppin' along.

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