From the very first moment I heard Down To The Bone in the late 90’s,it was clear this band from the London acid jazz club scene was going to be right up m alley. Since that time its been my pleasure to have purchased and reviewed a couple other DTTB albums. They have a number of albums but alas,they aren’t always the easiest to find. So when it came to my attention they had a new release planned for this year? It was on my wish list for the local record store Bull Moose. And sure enough,the store got a copy of the album in stock regardless of the order. Generally speaking,when it comes to the jazz/funk fusion genre I really do look forward to anything to emerge from that genre year by year. Mainly because of the rhythmic and melodic musical adventures they tend to take the listener one when placing your ears into the center of the grooves. Sometimes a high level of anticipation can lead to a mild letdown. Other times,its perfectly fulfilling. And the latter was what I hoped for in this release.
“Dropping Knowledge” starts the album out on a superb note-brightly melodic and percussion/horn driven uptempo funk where every instrumental part accentuates the other in rhythmically grooving harmony. “Meteorite”,”Getting It Together” and the closer “Give Me Love” keep that same bright feeling going strong. “The Bounce” and the hit single “The Sweetness”,on the other hand are locked down,foot stomping funk. Both have a slinkiness to them that brings out the colorful sheen of the piano and horn solos. A richly dancable late 70’s “sophistifunk” jazz-funk approach comes into play on “Happiness Is The Healer” and “Put A Different Spin On It”-two vocal numbers featuring the spirited singer Katie Leone. Both numbers passionately tout the virtues of joy and celebration of life over cynicism and giving up on oneself. They are “people music” funk with a message to the very highest degree. The title song brings a very Afro-Latin percussion flavor for a strong,sweaty jam with a tasty Roy Ayers-like vibraphone solo throughout. “We’re On The Move” brings everything together with a percussive groove before moving into the Ike Hayes-like wah-wah powered cinematic soul throw down on the bridge.
There is a quality about the presentation of the music on this album where,especially around the middle,the funk aware listener can just sense that crucial moment when everything about where the grooves are going are about to come to a head,and into something very beautiful and elegant as well. Generally speaking, DTTB albums I’ve heard in the past had a strong House/dance style rhythmic ethic to them. In short,a mild techno/club influence in with the funk. The spirit of this album is very much full on in the EWF/Incognito school of rhythmically and melodically dynamic live band funk. And the band to a literally bang up job on that as well. Very much players with a strong collective style,who typically maintain that unison approach, there doesn’t appear to be anyone in this band-from percussionist Joe Beckett to trombonist Tim Smart,who are are afraid to venture out and play tremendous solos in the middle of these classy and well produced grooves. And if not stated in lyrical/vocal form? The nature of the melodies…more than imply the joy of living and working to the rhythm. And the positive attitude that comes from this impulse. Truly a candidate for my favorite album of the year thus far.
Originally written May 1st,2014