Close But No Cigar
This Seattle-based trio of musicians (Lamarr on the organ, guitarist Jimmy James and drummer David McGraw) keep it greasy as they move through 60s and 70s-sounding funk, blues and groove soul-jazz amalgams. Yes, an easy, obvious reference point is Booker T & The M.G’s. And it’s fair. And good. But there’s also something of the Medeski Martin & wood feel going on too – virtuoso players, a deep pocket, no mistakes and yet through that precision cuts an earthy, organic (if you’ll pardon the pun!) feel…
They’re having fun too. On a little concoction called Al Greenery the trio circles the riff and melody of Green’s Here I Am (Come And Take Me), James adding plenty of the Steve Cropper feel and funk that hovers in and around his sound always.
The opener Concussion, reminds too of when the Charlie Hunter Trio (and his various groups) burst onto the scene. All bright sound-colours as the organ and guitar take turns stabbing in through the spaces between tight kicks on the bass drum, sharp thwacks to the snare.
Little Booker T borrows a bit of the feel and flow of Isaac Hayes’ version of Walk On By, Jimmy James coaxing a very Michael Toles-sounding guitar line.
Cornell Dupree (guitar) and Billy Preston (organ) are further touchstones – particularly their playing with Donny Hathaway and King Curtis.
And if you enjoyed when the Beastie Boys went full-instrumental, or the various Daptone combos – including particularly The Sugarman 3 – then you are going to want to be all over this.
It’s nothing new but that’s probably the best selling point here. Whole worlds being re-explored, tributes galore, and just some sweet, sweet playing. No one individual here is the star and yet they are all capable of star-turns. It’s the alchemy of a great trio at work. Listen to songs like Can I Change My Mind where a sunshine is evoked, radiates through the playing.
Eventually they settle with their own version of Walk On By, far more Booker T than Isaac Hayes and a lovely way to finish. This is the perfect album to have in your collection for any audience, any mood, and moment. Tremendous playing and feel-good vibes galore.
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