– Reviewed by Chris Mann
– an adventurous band which brings together the talents of guitarist
Chuck Loeb, keyboard player Mitchel Forman, drummer Wolfgang Haffner
and bassist Mel Brown – releases “Grapevine”, its fourth album
(and second for Hip Bop records) in July 2002.
band has undergone several lineup changes since it’s debut album in
1994. Members have
included bass legends Anthony Jackson and Victor Bailey, saxman Nelson
Rangell and respected ex-Blue Note percussionist Bashiri Johnson.
Loeb has been a constant presence since the formation of the band,
which can trace its roots back to the late 70’s when he and Forman
both played with Stan Getz.
effects kick off Trance and a monster
groove quickly develops. That
drum backbeat and oh-so-funky bass grab you hard and that warm
electric piano sounds fabulous. Indian
percussion, vocal samples and every funky guitar and keyboard sound
known to man get thrown in. Chuck
Loeb gets rocky and you know that the band, in the nicest possible
way, has “lost it”. Too late – you have too!
Jazz-rock like it used to be!
tablas are back, pitter-pattering gently behind Loeb’s steely
acoustic guitar on The Third Law.
It’s a slow, dramatic track which builds in intensity as that
rock guitar sneaks in. Mitchel
Forman is really going for it on keyboards in the middle of this song.
bass and that tight snare drive I Heard It
Through The Grapevine. I
don’t know why but the distorted guitar melody really makes me
smile! Bass freaks form a
line – the bass solo is juicy.
I guess I never expected to hear Marvin Gaye’s classic of
classics get a treatment as original as this.
the piano intro to Can You Hear Me Now?
is dreamy and the guitar doubles it on the lovely melody.
The many key changes make this a challenging song – but
it’s very elegant. This is hugely creative and I’m trying to think of
comparisons with other bands, but it’s hard.
Yellowjackets come closest…
is frantic and groove-laden. A
bit moody and discordant in the verse sections – which works really
well. That drummer is a
powerhouse and Loeb is cookin’.
sexy Cream, I hear echoes of George Duke
in the keyboards and quirky arrangement.
I’m tempted to carry on writing but I’d rather just drift
away. It’s my favourite
thought that the tightest, hardest, maddest jazz-rock ended when the
70’s did. Mr
Fruity proves me so wrong with its flying rhythm, manic but
in-the-pocket electric piano and dazzling mood changes.
Ever heard a song and thought “how can humans play this
well”? You know how I
mood is sombre as Where She Was opens.
The bluesy guitar and minor chords on the piano are very
moving. It’s a strong
instrumental “power ballad”.
percussion, swamp noises and a sense of fun pervade Lagoon.
The track slithers like a snake – oh, well, listen and
you’ll know what I mean. This
defies an accurate description, as much of my favourite music does.
learned to expect the unexpected by now.
The Shine opens like something
from David Byrne and Brian Eno’s “My Life in the Bush of
Ghosts”. The vocal is
lost in the heavy rhythm and other-wordly wall of synthesizer.
has a lighter and more conventional touch.
The pretty melody is doubled on piano and acoustic guitar.
I love the subtle cymbal work and percussion on this slow and
beautifully crafted song.
heavily chorused guitar over the skittering rimshots and deft bassline
on One Of Many remind me of something but
each time I think I can remember, it’s gone again.
Listen hard and there’s a waltz in here and it’s a very
jazzy and intricate dance indeed.
short but sweet, untitled piano and guitar interlude closes out the
can say is, if you think you knew what any of the players on this CD
could do, think again. And
if you hear music more original than this sometime soon, well, my
email address appears elsewhere on this site.
Bop Records – HIBD 8028
Produced by Mitchel Forman and Chuck Loeb