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One of smooth jazz's most durable and quintessential bands, San Diego's Fattburger have endured by keeping their laid-back funk trademark sound alive but twisting out of conventional pop-jazz trappings every so often. Fattburger have been known to do effective soul covers, but on Sugar they mine a more interesting catalog for a throbbing, street-smart take on Stanley Turrentine's standard "Sugar," featuring labelmate Chuck Loeb's pointed straight-ahead chops atop Tommy Aros' insistent percussion. A real-life traditional jazz tune may seem unique enough for this band, but even more "out there" is the closing track, "Mad Cow," which gives electric guitarist Evan Marks a chance to stretch out in a wailing, distorted jam context; he's then challenged to keep up as the band switches from a rock tempo to a heated Brazilian rhythm scheme. Also aces is Hollis Gentry, who is equally impressive on sax and flute; his fluttering soprano sax doubles with keyboardist Carl Evans, Jr.'s vibe flavors on "Emerald Hills," while his whistling flute solo soars above the cool, machine-generated funk of "It's About Time."

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