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X by Rented Mule

Rented Mule is the musical union of Philadelphia natives Don "D.A." Jones and Dan Greenberg. Drummer percussionist Jones has performed with Sun Ra, Sonny Stitt, Pharoah Sanders, Gloria Gaynor, The Drifters, Bo Diddley and Bonnie Raitt, among others. Some of the artists Bassist Greenberg has performed with include Bo Diddley, Mary Wells and the Doug Markley Band. While the rest of the members of the band on this, their second CD, rotate around the album has a solid and consistent feel, sound and drive due to these Philly native sons and their locked together in perfect rhythm abilities.

The music on this recording is reminiscent of early Brecker Brothers material - hip with tight horn work in a fusion meets R&B style. The recording’s first track, "Massapoag Jaunt," features some intricate horn work between trumpeter Paul Rodgers and saxophonist Jason Mescia. Todd Horton’s excellent alto trumpet solo is so dark in its tone you’d swear he’s playing into a carpet.

"Drive By Booty" continues to keep the excitement at a fever pitch. Jones’ set playing kicks at just the right times and never goes for flash at the expense of artistic musical expression. His playing throughout the album is hot when needed and tasty on the ballads. As a bassist Greenberg is more about laying down the foundation rather than working to bring the spotlight to himself. By not taking the emphasis away from the R&B and jazz-rock-backbeat compositions Greenberg shows class, so often lacking in younger musicians.

Another highlight of the recording is "Becoming" which has a nice sound reminiscent of Seawind’s instrumental pieces. This mellow Mescia composition features a sweetly oriented Pete McRae guitar solo before Paul Rodgers comes into blow down some long eighth note phrases in his all too brief solo.

If there is a problem with the recording it lies in the recording technique itself. Sometimes the bass doesn’t sounds stuffy, lacking a crisp attack that would have helped accentuate certain compositions, such as "Mamadou Ba." This small problem, however, doesn’t take away from how nice it is to again here new compositions in the old funky Brecker Brothers style.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Rented Mule
  • CD Title: X
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Self-Released
  • Tracks: Massapoag Jaunt, Drive By Booty, Insomnia, X, Psychostatic, Feed The Ferals, Becoming, Mamadou Ba, Up It and Jonesberg
  • Rating: Three Stars
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