The sensational UK jazz/funk group Shakatak, featuring the usual smooth and sultry vocals of Jill Saward and the suave, distinctive keys of Bill Sharpe (along with healthy doses of George Anderson on bass and Roger Odell on drums)—just keeps on trucking along. Not missing a single beat, literally, this marvelously groove-tight veteran band has always possessed the ability to turn heads with its unique blend of smooth jazz, funk, and even a hint of the disco era. Remember the tune, “Dazz,” by the group Brick back when? Shakatak has always had that special ability to kick out some runaway “disco jazz” while also throwing in that heavy funk and then smoothly caressing you with the mellowest of rich tunes and melodies. You can see the strobes and globes of the ‘80s on a couple of cuts and yet still feel so today when listening to these very talented artists who have withstood the test of time and consistently kept their groove alive and well.
The group’s latest release, Afterglow, is actually available only as an import (the group has, much to the chagrin of its fans here in the States, concentrated much of its energies on the overseas circuit), as is its 2007 release, Emotionally Blue, another project I’ve yet to experience and review. Because of its lack of concert dates here in the States, I’d once thought the band has dissolved. Thankfully, I was wrong---very wrong! I only hope that they will heed the words of this writer, words that I’m sure represent the feelings of a multitude of other U.S. Shak fans, and toss in a few State dates! I am fully confident that they would be one excellent experience for all who attend.
All musical feels are represented here. Check out the wide and very appealing diversity of this production as you listen to the disco-like “Footprints” and “Groove Me Tonight” while “Tower of Babel” gets sweaty with deeply laid funk, and the title track, “First Light,” and “Out of Town” just plain smooth away your rough edges with serious soul rhythms and bravado.
Afterglow bears witness to the fact that this is and has always been a quality group that stays plugged into the vibe of jazz listeners who like their music tinged with that something different. THe group's signature sound is as unchallenged today as ever. Yes, Shakatak's mark on smooth jazz is undeniable for any who take this soulful and fun form of jazz seriously.
In closing, I have two messages. To Shakatak: Don’t forget that you have fans here in the U.S. who love you! Share your live musical riches with us, and I bet you’ll see that love show up at the concert halls and jazz festivals in abundance. To Shak fans: After listening to this one, you will surely come away with the satisfying feeling of drowning in the afterglow.Posted by Ronald Jackson at May 1, 2009 3:53 AM