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Beat Street by Bill King's Rhythm Express

Bill King is a jazz renaissance man! He’s the co-founder and editor of the increasingly popular and informative EjazzNews.com website and noted jazz photojournalist. Moreover, he’s an accomplished keyboardist and composer who possesses a wide-ranging music vernacular, evidenced here on this largely, smoking studio set.

The album is centered upon King’s homage to time-honored soul-jazz pioneers, Cannonball Adderley, Ramsey Lewis, Eddie Palmieri and others. No doubt, it’s all about that very special groove within the core jazz idiom. Recorded in Canada, King leads a sextet that conveys an overriding sense of buoyancy amid the variable cadences and stylizations explored here. Yet, this isn’t an ensemble that attempts to mimic the courses previously traversed, especially when we consider that King solely penned eleven tracks to complement one group-based composition.

They execute Latin jazz, funky jazz, high-impact modern jazz and gently walking struts to complement a few sprightly cosmic meltdowns along the way. Sure enough, the band implements a toe-tapping and finger-snapping program, spiced up with King’s fluent B-3 organ and acoustic piano voicings. Otherwise, the musicians do indeed ring up notions of the greats cited above, although they inject a personalized spin into the grand schema.

Listen to the gospel-blues drenched piece "The Wake," where the hornists’ warm choruses enamor a sublime melody and melodically rich primary theme. And on "Kobe," I detected a few nods to keyboard great Herbie Hancock’s grooving straight-four classic, "Cantaloupe Island." Simply stated, this an irrefutably enjoyable album that beckons repeated listens. As King and his crew combine laudable chops with a focused methodology. More importantly, they’re not merely playing for themselves: that notion alone comes at you from the get-go. In sum, it’s a highly-charged endeavor, all executed with a modernist-like flair.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bill King's Rhythm Express
  • CD Title: Beat Street
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: 7 Arts Entertainment
  • Rating: Four Stars
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