Words by Michael J. Bultman
Some rock albums open up with a bang, a meaty guitar riff followed by an LA sized chorus. Some Jazz albums start with a whisper; 2-3 songs so smooth and silky you find yourself taking a whiff of your lapels to see if you’re actually in a smoky club. But some other albums aren’t looking to make impressions – or they know they don’t have to. Such is A Love Electric, a new album by Todd Clouser, melding genres so unconcernedly that the band needs only to plug in and kick it.
Todd and the fellows begin the album with “Serenity Now.” Feinting the aforementioned whisper, the band mixes soft brass and light, choppy rhythms, with that electric sound the album’s title boasts before tearing the cover right off of the second track, “Meet Me at the Polo Grounds.” The tune begins with an airy trumpet motif and feels as if it could go the way of a smooth jazz standard, stinking with sophistication and cigar smoke until a deep, syncopated guitar joins in followed by a quick drumbeat kicking it into a dizzy, up-tempo number.
The album features some big names like slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein, Bryan Nichols on Rhodes, and Jason Craft on B3. Gordy Johnson and Adam Linz share bass duties, and Greg Schutte sitting in on the kit.
The group continues to defy definition – or at least any this reviewer is capable of – in the following track, “Curtis,” a tribute to the great Curtis Mayfield. With a super fly groove accented by Todd’s jazzy guitar work I’m sure the man would be proud to hear it. “Bobby White in the City,” lead by a quirky, itchy guitar riff, and off time trumpet solo also features the acoustic bass’ first appearance, running up and down the frets alongside a shuffling drumbeat.
Continuing to chameleon through the genres with tracks like “The Habit Kick” and “Jimena,” Clouser shows his appreciation and talent for the blues before swinging back to a jazz groove in “Littlest Number” and the “Border at Pachacan,” featuring Kelly Rossum’s high-flying trumpet sound tangling with Clouser’s sharp guitar. To round out the album the group offers two covers: “One,” by Harry Nilsson, and the famous “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen. Clouser steps front and takes on full melodic duty, displaying the precise control and perfect ear we expect and enjoy.
It’s jazz and the blues; it’s funk and old-school 70s rock; its good, damn good music. Turn it on and turn it up.
“A Love Electric”
© February 14th, 2011
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