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Surfs Up by Mo'Fone

As the title would seem to suggest, Mo'Fone has created a very upbeat summertime compact disc. Comprised from what would seem to be a Donald Fagan dream, Mo'Fone is lead by two remarkable saxophone players (who also play clarinets and flutes on select tracks) and an enjoyably funky drummer. The result is a perfect soundtrack for driving on your way to a beach or outdoor party.

Mo'Fone's complement brings a full sound to the selection of songs, comprised mostly of well-chosen covers. Jim Peterson's baritone sax is very effective in replicating the bass lines, and Larry De La Cruz's very competent effort blends extremely well with Peterson (and Danny Bittker's tenor, appearing on 3 of the 10 tracks). Jeremy Steinkoler holds the tracks on the crest of the wave with very driving, funky style. Even with this minimalist complement, the arrangement is a lush, full sound.

The stand-out tracks are the original songs "On Call" and "Surf's Up" written by Peterson, and "View of the Valley" written by De La Cruz. There are many different styles of world music that influence these tracks, as well as a keen sense for arrangement. John Scofield's "Kool" is perfectly placed on this CD, and Earl Gaines' "Big Chief" was an enjoyable romp (coming from a Dr. John fan). Make sure to read the liner notes describing the inspiration for the original material and a interesting facts/stories regarding the covers. The only misstep was the cover of Joe Zawinul's (Weather Report) "Black Market", which begins the CD. The song is performed very well and is very upbeat (you can see why this was chosen to start the album), but the bassline is a bit monotonous, urging me to skip to the next track. Placed at a different spot on the album would probably yield a different, more favorable reaction. Still, this is a very strong, fun CD that will remain in my car for the rest of the summer.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mo'Fone
  • CD Title: Surfs Up
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Evander Music
  • Musicians: Jim Peterson (baritone sax), Larry De La Cruz (alto sax), Jeremy Steinkoler (drums), feat. Danny Bittker (tenor).
  • Rating: Four Stars
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