Sometimes the most inspiring musical fantasies emerge from pure serendipity. When a late summer cancellation occurred for a New York concert producer in 1988, he scrambled to assemble a handful of solo artists performing for him on other dates, and the mouthwatering result was the Fantasy Band. The ban's second studio project is indeed full of Sweet Dreams, easing smoothly into funk and hip hop, forging boldly into world beat exoticism thanks to unofficial bandleader George Jinda, hitting the tropics with Dave Samuels, and jazzing up on nearly every tune. Most of these players fall into that "known but not superstar" category, and the Fantasy Band allows them to strut their stuff. Each member--Chuck Loeb, John Lee, Lionel Cordew round out the core--takes ample solo time, but particularly stunning is the saxwork of newcomer Mark Johnson (later of Special EFX), who lends punch to half the cuts. Marion Meadows handles the rest with his expert silk. Mellow tunes like "It Had to Be Me" may seem a bit generic given the vast array of talent involved, but luckily there's enough energy on cuts like Lee's "Mambatamba" and the otherworldly jam "Step into My Heart" to spruce up the fantasy at the most opportune moments. A little commercialism in the form of a pop vocal cover of "Walk on By" and a harmless rap interlude at the end don't hurt any.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran