ULU [#1]

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For a long time New York City has been a breeding ground for young and creative people in which to gather, share ideas, and explore new directions in music and other arts. The funk-groove-jazz jam-group known as ulu is no exception to this tradition. Their self-titled album is infused with an energy and a vivaciousness quite obviously a product of the youth involved with the recording. But unlike some works created by other musicians in that 20-something age bracket, ulu exhibits a tightness in execution, a clarity of musical concepts, and a serious groove that quickly and effortlessly brings the listener into the cut. This phenomenon is exemplified in the opening title "Canine Brigade," which starts with Scott Chasolen spanking out some slick lines on the Clavinet that immediately inspire your head to nod to the beat. Aaron Gardner comes in with a blaring solo while the rest of the band supports the rhythm and adds sonic frosting to the mix. Luca Benedetti adds a rock-like feel to "The Grape" with his intentionally distorted and anxious guitar part, but the track settles back into the horn led melodies as the album continues. "Spongebath" will get one back on their feet with its light and quick rhythm and the changes in the rhythmic structure will have your ears perked in interest. "Poppo's Back" is another energetic track that features Gardner's "spacey" flute playing and Benedetti's psychedelic guitar effects during the "Shaft"-esque break in the song. The standout track on ulu is the last, "Prince Igor," which opens with rapid drum fills from David Hoffman that swiftly lead into a tight downtown New York City groove with each member of the group expressing their soul to the utmost. For a debut album, ulu is an excellent effort that makes this writer excited to hear from this collective in the future.

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