The initial concepts and strategy for this band was born in New Orleans. Then, of course, Hurricane Katrina threw a proverbial wrench in the works. Long story short, the band migrated to New York. With this debut effort, the musicians fuse hip-hop, electronica and jazz-funk into a schema that outshines many of their peers. It’s not about rampant use of electronic implements, but more to do with carving out memorable compositions, boasting catchy hooks amid the artists’ often-lilting solo spots.
Call it what you will, but the group’s sustainable arrangements and in-the-pocket grooves are augmented by dark keys, tasteful use of synths and sinuous melody lines. With additional musicians Rex Gregory (reeds) and James Westfall (vibes) appearing on various works, the unit’s snappy pulses provide a bustling foundation for the soloists.
On the track titled "A Thin Line," Gregory’s yearning sax choruses ride atop drummer Evan Howard’s limber backbeat, as the former alternates on flute to decree the memorable, dreamscape-laden theme. They touch upon contemporary jazz-fusion during "Yes, No, Maybe So," largely due to Mike Barile’s breezy, dark-toned e-guitar phrasings. In other areas, Gregory and Barile mix it up rather poignantly by swapping fours atop heavy bass lines and perky, funk-rock hooks. And just when you thought Ornette Coleman’s classic "Lonely Woman," was beaten into submission, the band renders a somber intro, which is completely eradicated during the high-impact bridge.
Nonetheless, the group’s initial offering dictates a harbinger of many good things to come. In a way, this album can become quite addictive and of course, that notion intimates one of the secret to success.