Oh No Oh Wow may just be the perfect four word review, one listen to Michael Bellar and the as-is ensemble and you will be hooked!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Welcome to the land of the avant garde rhythm and blues. The eclectic new groove sound of Michael Bellar while harmonically accessible to the "average" listener seems to lean towards some of the left of center work of John Scofield or perhaps Charlie Hunter and Medeski Martin & Wood get into a bar fight. An organic free groove splash of lyrical color from a small ensemble with a large color pallet from which to work. Truth be told...they don't sound like anyone. Nu-funk.
A whimsical attitude permeates this release with such the flash fried funk of "Gadson." Jazz funk may never be the same as the organ and drum fueled groove drops straight out of some of the finest dance clubs one might frequent in the Big Apple, the ground zero if improvisational fun. This is the new funk...Improvisational fun, some assembly required!
"Biscuit Baby" is a soul jam with a blues and gospel infusion that could be part of the soundtrack of a city at last call. "You ain't got to go home but you gotta get the hell out of here!" The arrangement of the Bob Marley classic "Three Little Birds" is loose, taken at a slightly faster tempo than most ensembles would dare yet deconstructed to a collective jam allowing each member to make their own musical statement...Oh yeah, they cover Voodoo Chile. Stupid good!
Good music has no expiration date nor is it genre specific. Good music should hit you on multiple fronts and permeate your soul long after the last track has finished.
Mission accomplished! One of the best of 2014!
Tracks: Oh No Oh Wow; Gadson; Biscuit Baby; Little Mike D's A Big Boy Now; Hot Box Magic; Three Little Birds; Go Long Gaudi; Yes Please; Voodoo Chile; Girl On A String.
Personnel: Michael Bellar: Acoustic and Electronic Keyboards; Accordion, Hammond Organ Effects; Mandolin, Percussion; Brad Wentworth: Drums and Percussion; Rob Jost: Acoustic and Electric Basses; Brook "Bongo" Martinez: Percussion.