July 13, 2007

Down To The Bone - Supercharged

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Ever since 1997, when they burst onto the scene with the seminal Manhattan To Staten, Down To The Bone has been all about the groove. The brainchild of non musician Stuart Wade, Down To The Bone came out of the acid jazz movement that was prevalent in the UK during the early 90’s. The bands seventh disc, which was released on June 18, is the aptly named Supercharged and is it’s most powerfully funky yet. The forte Wade has for using his production nous to bring alive his musical idea’s through a frequently changing group of ultra-talented performers has again reaped rich dividends. With the addition of a full horn section to complement Paul ‘Shilts’ Weimar’s blistering sax, his desire to arrive at more of a live jam attitude is fulfilled in spades and exemplified by the storming title track.

In fact the entire album is ‘supercharged’. Cuts like ‘Funkin Around’ and ‘Make It Funky’ provide one thumping number after another and throughout evoke something akin to Tower Of Power goes large.

The raw power of Supercharged is such that when, in relative terms, Down To The Bone choose to turn it down the effect is instantly pleasing. For ‘Parkside Shuffle’ Neil Angilley’s jazzy piano blends beautifully with Shilts sax while Corrina Greyson’s soulful vocal on ‘Shake It Up’ is just right. Jon Radford also comes up big on trumpet for this one and, with the Incognito like ‘Smile To Shine’, the vocal of Hil St Soul (aka Hilary Mwelwa) creates a delightfully retro vibe. Wade includes the legendary Roy Ayers on both vibraphone and vocals for ‘Electric Vibes’ and, in so doing, finally gets the chance to work with one of his greatest inspirations. It’s a track that shifts from smouldering to downright explosive and is in every respect an Ayers master-class.

Still, after all that, Supercharged, and Down To The Bone, is all about the funk. The tracks ‘Cosmic Fuzz’ and ‘Greedy Fingers’ merge with others such as ‘Space Dust’ and ‘Hip City’ to maintain the intensity at ‘funk factor 6’. With top notch performances from Julian Crampton on bass, Tony Remy on guitar and Nigel Cowley on keys along the way the combination leaves the listener exhausted yet wanting more and makes Supercharged an album with which to party and then some.

For more on Down To The Bone go to www.downtothebone.com

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at July 13, 2007 11:42 AM