That's Wassup

Charles Langford

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That's Wassup Review

by Michael G. Nastos

Soprano, alto, and tenor saxophonist Charles Langford definitely takes his cues from the Grover Washington, Jr. school of contemporary jazz 30 years after the fact, playing a very predictable brand of music that urbanites can enjoy. This collection of originals is all derived from Washington in that they own a similar beat, lack of jazz swing or invention, and lay lazily upon strict, simplistic melodic scales and tonic tunings that create no threats or confrontational ideas. Co-producer and drummer Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson keeps things solidly in a 4/4 groove with little variance or challenge, while the rest of the band plays along willingly and happily. It's a clockwork, safe, but pleasant tenor sax-led version of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" that kicks off the set, followed by six compositions by Langford. "Someone 2 Luv" sports a basic alto sax stairstep ascent and descent, while "Mary's Mood" and "Lost" has Langford switching back to tenor, the former a straight funk number with more energy and trite fingerpopping electric bass guitar, the latter a slow, deliberate ballad driven by the fine piano of Frank Wilkins, with Langford's horn in an upper register. The title track, with the leader's soprano sax, employs a slightly more complex melody alongside Chip Crawford's electric piano, soprano and flute is overdubbed on the swaying, Latin-flavored but ultimately syrupy "For Cathy," and "Chucky's Funk" is an obvious party tune. A background vocal group is used on two tracks, but there are no lead vocals to speak of. While Langford is a competent musician, there's very little to distinguish him from anybody else. Hopefully, this good musician will play better music next time around.

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