Project Grand Slam: Harry Knuckles


Harry Knuckles


Project Grand Slam


Play (Cakewalk Records CW77)

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Robert Miller (bass),

RJ Avallone (trumpet), Yonatan Voltzok (trombone), Gilad Ronen (sax), Haim Cotton (keyboards), Gabriel Pollack (guitar), Ron Thaler (drums), Gilad Dobrecky (percussion)


Composed by Gilad Ronen


Recorded: New York


Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

I once had a contractor walk through my living room, take a look at my stereo (which I was proud of at the time, even though it was basically a bunch of half-expensive junk), and say to me, "So you like Kenny G?" My inner jazz snob couldn't hold back the sneer. This isn't really a moment I'm proud of (though I still don't like the G-man), but it does remind me of the times that I've encountered music that takes too close a step toward that Smooth Jazz line. The problem with the genre isn't necessarily its smoothness, but the overall lack of improvisation combined with a rhythmic rigidity. A sure clue often appears in the liner notes with the mention of "programming." If you see that word, it's best to stay away. I suspect that a lot more new jazz fans could be drawn in if the introductory music gave rookie ears the benefit of the doubt and provided them with at least some level of difficulty. "Harry Knuckles" is a very accessible piece that combines funk rhythms (hats off to Gabriel Pollack on guitar), a great bassline, snappy horns, and some terrific solo passages (sax and keys). This isn't to say that Project Grand Slam isn't playing serious music; but they're not afraid to have fun with it.

Reviewer: Mark Saleski


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