Monday, 20 September 2010

Dennis Springer - Rio - 1997 - Lucky records

This missive came as a nice surprise, and although 13 years old is still widely available. It's a set that i would have snapped up at the time, and a pity I've not heard of this set before. Dennis Springer may be a name that is known to you, and so he should be as he was the sax player with Pleasure back in the 1970s and early 1980s! This set, though, is a quality Jazz-Fusion set from 1997 and includes input from such talents as Jeff Lorber, Tom Grant, Marlon McClain, Nate Phillips and Bruce Carter from Pleasure / the Dazz band as well as Randy Jackson. The set is one that will appeal to those who loved Jazz before the dreadful Smooth Jazz regression, and their funky flavours of Nate Phillips' bassline and Marlon McClain's guitar ensure that there is edge, grit and more than a dose of funk. there is no snoozing away to be had here, and nor should there be! Jeff Lorber, as i have said before, is immediately recognisable. His style is wonderfully unique and his work on "Rio" in writing and keyboards is all too evident. This track isn't at all Latin but instead a joyous, fresh and summery sax blowout atop the best of Lorber's bouncy grooves. This song is absolute knockout! Love it, love it, love it!

Funkiness reigns with the hard-edged "Corbin's Place" which also is absolutely superb with bass and guitar aplenty in the best Cameo / Slave / Pleasure / Dazz band vein. Percussion from Caton Lyles is excellent and Dennis Springer's sax playing is absolutely blinding. What is this gentleman doing today I wonder? we need more jazz Music from the US like this. It would be a wonderful extra alongside the superb Nu-Jazz flowering throughout Europe. "Love Song" is a full-blown vocal featuring Kirk Green and Tracy Harris on vocals, but for me is slightly Schmaltzy and weaker than what we really expect following on from two great instrumentals. A pity as both vocalists are excellent. I have a feeling that the female vocalist here is the same Tracy Harris who provided us with a great Gospel set that very same year. "What's In The Chilli" is a lively number that has echoes of Loose Ends' "Nights Of Pleasure" in the rhythm, and in steps Jeff Lorber again working his ample magic. Tom grant steps in with piano at the ready for "Sara", a nice attempt at a jazz version of the huge US smash hit for Starship BUT it comes across as weak and ineffective. Being a fan of Starship and that song in particular, I would rather have had an original record made. No-one can touch the original song. It's a Soft Rock classic and I love it too much! This set is one that should be sought out. Amazon have it as a download and hard copies are easily available online. Check it out!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe