The difference in spirit between Ben Lamdin's first and second Nostalgia 77 albums is tipped off by their titles. While 2004's Songs for My Funeral was fittingly downcast, The Garden is instead saturated with bright, vibrant energy. They're quite dissimilar in setup as well, with the debut's hip-hop roots exchanged for a combination of programming and actual live humans creating groove-driven jazz indebted to a range of recordings from the late '50s through the '70s. Any given cut, save for a thick, neck-winding take on the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" (featuring Alice Russell, a vocalist who stomps all over fellow Brit Joss Stone), is likely to fool the average jazz head into thinking it was waxed at least three decades ago. When filed alongside the likeminded releases by Yesterday's New Quintet, Quantic, and Cinematic Orchestra, The Garden will have no trouble holding its own. The sleeve artwork ironically looks a lot more like Rhythm Corps' Common Ground than Don Cherry's Complete Communion, so don't be surprised if a half-awake record-store clerk puts the disc in the "R" section.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman