I could go one of two ways here: "Do you miss the Average White Band?" or "Is this the record Herbie Hancock wanted to make when he put out SECRETS but simply was not funky enough?" (Well, not that particular time.) Either way could lead to farce, since I have never been able to exactly nail down to anybody's satisfaction exactly what 'funk' is. Let me try again. Funk is a catchy chord change to a danceable rhythm and performed with a certain 'attitude' which is a subset of 'swing.' As well as any accoutrement, musical or other, which enhances said feeling. I think. Well, we'll have to run with that.
Cadillac Jones are a sextet who lay down grooves of varying provenance; sometimes the groove is implied, such as in "Your Mama," which sports a smeary, Leslie-amped guitar riff that meanders and grinds (as opposed to bumping and grinding) until Gary Hurz switches off the Leslie (wonder what museum he got it from?) and reels off a solo any Isley Brother would approve of. Groove merchants will applaud Rob Nelson's crisp unadorned drums and Hutch Renaud's woody, eyebrow-lifting bass lines. This rhythm team has never, I believe, encountered a chord change they couldn't make funk out of. Such as in a take of Coltrane's "Giant Steps" (!), in which the Trane man is revealed as a capable writer (or inspirer) of a different kind of riff you wish would never end. Keys player Robbin Rahman spins out a Basie- like bow on the Fender Rhodes, and Will Scruggs follows well by wisely not chasing the Trane but looking back before him to the R&B jump band vocabulary of Chu Berry or Illinois Jacquet. Very fine. I have to admit this sort of thing isn't my taste but I was nodding my head furiously to "Upper Decker"'s use of the chords under "(I Know) I'm Losing You", completely reimagining them. Turntablist Chris Grey uses his rig as a spice, akin to how Mtume livened up Miles Davis' guitar-heavy 1975 touring unit. And I guess we couldn't make it through a whole CD without a tip of the floppy hat to Herbie H., whose "Chameleon" gets reconditioned, chopped and channeled into "Galaxy Galore" -- frankly, until I heard Grey spinning the old 33s with those 'New Dimensions In Time!' voice-overs ('It Looks Great From Up Here!') I thought they meant the Ford Galaxy. My mistake.
In a way, I think "Galaxy Galore" reminds us of the JETSONS future that never came. Not up to now, anyway. Probably one reason why a lot of us think the future isn't really here yet, even in 2004. Cadillac Jones prefer to mix past and present, and no it's not earth-shaking but one could easily find one shaking one's... what do you call that... oh, yes, er, booty.
by Kenneth Egbert
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