November 17, 2010

Urban Funk – Heroes and Legends

Bringing us some East Coast jammin’ is this MD-based group, Urban Funk, which does a really decent job of incorporating a solid group of covers with some competent original material to create Heroes and Legends, a nice collection to add to your smooth jazz goodies.

Designed with the intent, as the group says, “to pay homage and elaborate on the creativity of our teachers, gurus and masters of an art form we love” as well as to “add original material as the culmination of the experiences performing, recording and representing the pulse of the eras in we which we participated,” this album obviously has a direction. The covers are nicely interpreted though only conservatively tweaked. I suppose that was to drive home the point that the approach to these tunes was to preserve the integrity of the compositions and to show respect for the work of those coming before this group. A noble gesture.

The original material suggests that the group didn’t just sit down and bang out a few notes, record them, and thrust them forward without regard to the listening public’s sensitivities.

After a funky and snappy opening track, their original “Urban Phunk,” the group goes right after Steely Dan’s “Josie,” a brave gesture in my opinion, since I highly respect Steely Dan’s work, and it handles it most effectively.

There are other examples of some satisfying quality playing (and singing, as is evidenced on Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love,” sung here quite well by one Tommy Lepson), and you can hear that time was truly used wisely-- and not wasted-- in creating this production.

Posted by Ronald Jackson at November 17, 2010 8:28 PM