Paris-born guitarist U-Nam has opened the �funkgates� on his latest album, Unanimity, scheduled for release on April 28 on the Trippin N Rhythm record label. The drive on this project is so infectious that you can actually feel and visualize the energy spewing forth. The combination of R&B grooves, jazz runs, and the unmistakable funk factor give this one a running start toward the top of the charts.
The opening, rather atypical piece (at least from a jazz perspective), �Viva La Revolucion� is a slowly marching brief tune that is so clean, melodic, and universal in appeal, while �Funk-4-U-Nity� is one of those �down & dirty� jams that begs motion and calls for a clear understanding of just what funk is all about. Following that, the up-tempo and catchy �Shine On� is a hook-rich and soulful offering that�s sure to get a huge chunk of airplay. Then, there�s the highly electric, stratospherically-charged title track which just sizzles with the vibrancy of U-Nam�s Ibanez guitar coupled with superior and harmonic backing vocals.
Gathering together some superb help from master flutist/saxman Najee, Matt Rohde on Rhodes, and canary-like vocals from Marva King, as well as stellar support from his own group of fine musicians (Franck Sitbon on the Rhodes, piano, clavinet, organ, and backing vocals; Dennis Bennarosh on percussion; Mike White on drums; and a keenly sharp collection of horns and strings), U-Nam (who�s personally handling guitars, basses, and keys) puts forth a sterling effort here bound for the highest musical ground.
Getting back to the tunes offered here, there are worthy selections that evoke memories of tunes and artists past--as well as cuts that demonstrate U-Nam�s ability to compose, mold, and play quality original material. The hooks throughout are distinct, the melodies are refreshing and pleasurable, the alternately bluesy and lightning riffs and chops (e.g.,�4 Ever Urs� and �My Heart and Soul�) from U-Nam�s Ibanez are fluid and masterful, the bass lines are definitely bottom-heavy and chock full of funk, and the percussions and drums add that undeniable rhythm and �flava.�
There�s flash and an occasional surprise throughout this album. A case in point would be the moderately paced �Soul Boy Reincarnation,� which begins as a handsome arranged slice of smooth jazz and funk and ends up with a nod to some cool ragtime. Love it! Oh, and then there�s a cleverly arranged cut that, while original, offers a throw-back chorus reminiscent of my favorite R&B duo of all time, Sam & Dave, as snippets of �Hold On I�m Comin�� are heard in �(Hang On) U- Is Comin�.� I�d also be remiss if I didn�t mention the Martha & The Vandellas monster oldie, �Dancing In The Streets,� as performed by the marvelous Marva King. Just try to sit this one out! Loving the mix between jazz and blues the way I do, I have to also tip my hat to the strollin� �Losin� My Mind.� Excellent work.
I tell you, one is truly in for a potpourri of listening treats with this project, as U-Nam sets out to truly provide the listener with some quality and diverse sounds. All in all, Unanimity is one of those productions that will enjoy a long, happy life everywhere smooth jazz and serious grooves are taken seriously.