The brainchild of keyboardist Larry Goldings and guitarist Bob Ward, Voodoo Dogs comes across like a crazy view of what might have happened if the Crusaders, in all their '70s funk-jazz glory, had incorporated more world music and Native American elements into their mix. The duo starts out simply enough, with Ward's muted electric guitar making percussive statements over a rolling bed of Fender Rhodes joy as a wah-wah clicks on in the background. But as soon as you're comfy in retroland, "Beatnik" storms in with a thick, modern trip-hop groove, and the punchy flute melody of Tim Ries trading melodic riffs with Ward over the happy schizophrenia of Goldings alternating on Hammond B-3 arpeggios and playful piano lines. "Uganda" gets wackier yet, with crazy Native American vocalizations and flute sweeps dancing over a thick bass and Rhodes harmonies. Appropriate to its title, "Vicoden" is like a dreamy little break in the action, with Ward's crisp electric lines floating gently over a simple horn section and a simmering Hammond B-3. "You Dig" finds Ward on both guitars and keyboards, running a lively race to see if he can roll along quicker than the funky vibes melody of Joe Locke. The duo even touch on some down-home blues with "The Crazy Man," which has Goldings's B-3 rising in the distance as Ward wails on electric guitar, and a few horns make some emphatic points, as if to say, "Aren't we having fun?" People who complain that there's no originality in contemporary jazz may take a few listens to dig this one, but eventually all skepticism will be fed to the dogs.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran