Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Jeff Coffin & The Mu'tet are back with Side Up, an everything but the kitchen sink presentation with a bare bones approach. Coffin believes in allowing all his musical co-conspirators should let their voice be heard and the result is an amazing synergy. In short, their stuff is tight! The roots on display are as varied and diverse as the origins of the improvisational music they play. This mighty jazz gumbo includes New Orleans Second Line, the groove of African rhythms and plenty of straight ahead jazz to keep the purist happy. The mission is to hit you right between the eyes with a harmonic firestorm of sonic fury and rhythms you simply can't get out of your head. Mission accomplished! Guitar effects are occasionally used on horns which pushes the real contemporary envelope to the next level!
"Scratch That Itch" is a funk laden jazz nasty that showcases the horn effects and may well be the signature tune for the release. The groove you can use might well be the Coffin tune "Steppin' Up" which takes the changes from Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and sets them to a new melody while dropping in a NOLA nasty second line back beat just to keep it interesting. Done everyday right? The deceptively subtle odd metered Low Hanging Groove has a smoldering blues like underbelly while the Caribbean type swing has a percussive pop and a true collective sound not JC and four after thoughts. Another true gem would be the closer "Albert's Blue Sky" an exquisite open ended gospel influenced tune that touches the heart.
A virtually flawless release from one of the most in demand saxophonists and educators in the country. While the jazz genre may be in trouble, Jeff Coffin and artists like him will never let jazz die. You take what you know and what you like and you move past that, my theory as a writer and I think Jeff might agree not bad advice for a musician.
Tracks: And So It Begins; Peace Now; Low Hanging Fruit; Steppin' Up; As You Were; Scratch That Itch; Mogador; Yukemi; The Scrambler; Albert's Blue Sky.
Personnel: Jeff Coffin: Solo Piano, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Handclaps, Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax, Q-Tron Envelope Filter, Bells; Bill Fanning: Trumpet, Space Trumpet; Felix Pastorius: 6 String Electric Bass, Fender Jazz Bass, Ring Thing Electro Harmonix; MXR Compression Pedal; Chris Walters: Piano, Hammond B-3, Melodica; Roy "Futureman" Wooten: Drums, Percussion; Radha Botofasina: Harp; Roy Agee: Trumpet; Rod McGaha: Trumpet; Denis Solee: Tenor Sax; Herlin Riley: Tambourine; James DaSilva: Guitar; R. Scott Bryan: Congas; Pat Bergeson: Harmonica; Ryoko Suzuki: Harmonium; Zakir Hussain: Tabla; Mike Haynes: Trumpet, Barry Green: Trombone, Evan Cobb: Tenor Sax.