Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom

VooDoo Boogaloo

Levtron Productions LEV#206

Ron Levy, composer, producer, organ, pianos, vibes, strings, basses, clavinet, and Korg MS-20; Melvin Sparks, guitar; Karl Denson, alto, tenor sax and flute; Jeff Lockhart, guitar; Russ Lawton, percussion, drums and tambourine; Yahuba Garcia, congas and timbales; Adrome "Acidman" MacHine, drums and percussion; "Sax" Gordon baritone and tenor sax; and, special guest Jerry Portnoy, harmonica.


Ron Levy's blues roots were established at age 18 when he began touring with Albert King. His list of awards and credits is impressive and includes collaboration with multi-genre artists. Those influences are reflected in this varicolored assemblage of material.

The opening track "Organ Colossus" features an insistent organ reverb driving an intense cornucopia of percussive sounds. The title tune, "Voodoo Boogaloo" is a Latin-infused offering with Denson's flute digging into this one with inspired improvisation and Sparks lending a spicy guitar solo. The pace slows down on a lush ballad-like "Love Retoined." The groovy take on "Better Save Yo'seff" showcases Gordon on tenor sax and Lockhart on guitar in a delightful swinging excursion. "Spy On The Fly" is a take-off on a cop show theme with sirens and giddy pacing. The funky "Spank!" blends Levy's inventive improvising on organ with Denson and Gordon pushing the rhythm on tenor and baritone saxophones. "Wes Side West" is a tribute to Wes Montgomery with Sparks interpreting the melody with sensitivity. Blues is well represented on the offering "Memphis Mem'ries" with blues harmonica master Portnoy setting a slow bluesy pace for Denson who expounds on the timing with exquisite Jazz phrasing on tenor saxophone.

This CD, containing eight tracks, effectively blends Jazz, soul and blues, which is funk flavored but if you are looking for pyrotechnics, this is not it. It is a spirited exercise with skilled musicians who get into a groove and never look back. Well worth a listen and if you are looking for a danceable party disc, this would fit the bill.

by Dorothy L. Hill

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