Tuesday, February 09, 2016



A totally wonderful jazz ensemble from Japan – one who definitely work in some of the older modes you'd guess from the "legacy" in their name, especially the hippest funky big band styles of the 70s – yet a group who also have a very fresh, individual vibe of their own! These are all musicians who've been through the past decade and more of Japanese club jazz – more rhythmic uses of the form, crossed over to the funk and soul crowd – yet they're also taking things back towards a more complicated, tonally rich version of a larger group like this – with sublime sounds that emerge from the reeds and brass players, over rhythms that can still be a bit funky when they want! There's a slight bit of electricity in the lineup – a bit of organ and electric piano, plus some guitar – next to the warmer sounds on horns – and in addition to versions of Weldon Irvine's "Turkish Bath" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together", the group also contribute their own original material on the titles "African Water", "Reborn", "The Spirit", "Night Flight", and "Come With Me". ~ Dusty Groove


In case you're wondering, they DO still make 'em like they used to – at least when it comes to classic-styled soul records, like this St Louis effort from Kenny Rice! Kenny comes from a world that might be more blues than soul, but there's definitely a lot of southern soul styles at play on this set – from Kenny's great vocal leads, right down to the sweet combo backing, which even includes some organ and saxes from St Louis legend Oliver Sain! About half the album's got more of a blues vibe than a soul one – but even those sounds are recorded at a level that's more like you'd hear from a 70s indie than a contemporary label – and Rice's own drums help kick lots of the tunes into headier soul territory, and create this wider-ranging vibe that certainly lives up to the house party spirit promised on the cover. Titles include "I Wanna Satisfy You Baby", "Big Blue", "Back Street", "Pink Champagne", "Honky Tonk", "I'm Tore Up", "Oh Yes It's You", and "Hard Working Man" – plus a very cool take on Horace Silver's "Liberated Brother". ~ Dusty Groove


Pianist Benny Lackner hits a groove here that's really unique – funky, but not jazz funk at all – and instead kind of a spacious, flowing sound on his keyboard that carves out its own special feel through careful timing and well-defined sense of attack! The drums and bass in the group certainly help lay out the sound – especially the bass, which is played with equally spacious tones by Jerome Regard – but Lackner's keyboard work is what really drives the record – these beautifully blocky passages, even when single notes are in play, not chords – which makes for a wonderfully soulful sound throughout, even when Benny moves over to a bit of Wurlitzer or Musser Ampli-Celesta. Titles include great remakes of Bowie's "Cygnet Committee" and Rodriguez' "Sugar Man" – plus "The 4th Member", "Song For Lucia", "The Garden", and "Name Dropper". ~ Dusty Groove

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