Ziggy Modeliste


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The T-shirts sold at Zigaboo Modeliste gigs read "King of the Funky Drummers" and there are many who would call that truth in advertising. Disillusioned by record industry machinations, Modeliste was inactive for most of the 1980s and '90s before releasing this self-produced comeback CD grounded in mainstream '70s dancefloor funk grooves more than New Orleans-specific rhythms. With its stabbing clavinet, thumb pop bass, and Spartan groove, "Shake What You Got" is certainly a wannabe '70s dance invocation, while "Sing Me a Song" has kind of a late '70s Gap Band feel with bass keyboards driving a chunky groove. "Standing in Your Stuff" again leads with the thumb pop and the solid upbeat groove of "Gonna Have a Party" is more Tower of Power with horns and vocal chants. The lyrics don't aspire to much beyond catch phrases for the dance floor multitudes and even the one message song, "Black on Black Crime," sends crossed signals with a bright backing track built on James Brown scratch guitar and Allen Toussaint-like horns. Modeliste, himself, is content to lay down and drive the funk foundation; the one time he really steps out is on "Zig Me," a showcase with his old partner George Porter on bass. Modeliste doesn't lean on the Meters' legacy as much as his old bandmates; the closest he gets to the '60s sound is "K-9" and that has horns and a sax solo. When he does, it's from different angles: "Funky Nasty Cigarettes" and "My O' My What a Wedding Day" are both very '50s New Orleans R&B (think "They All Ask'd for You") and the mid-'70s update "Tea Pot" doesn't sound that retro with its chunky, funky groove. But the closing "Nanny Goat Cheese" suggests that Modeliste really is trying to pick up where the New Directions-era Meters take on '70s dancefloor funk left off. There's still a ways to go; the songs are a bit lacking, but the playing is committed and energetic. These grooves are solid, if not outstanding, so Modeliste appears to have chosen the right moment to come back with Zigaboo.com.

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