Razl: Snail Underground
Razl (guitar, vocals)
Rotonova (Martian Sheep Records MS-01)
Hugo Astudillo (alto sax), Lorenzo Matellan (organ), Pepe Acebal (drums), Arturo Herrera (congas and percussion), Klaatu (miscellaneous instruments).
Composed by Razl (Raul Huelves).
Recorded: Madrid, Spain, April 2007
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Spanish guitarist Razl (real name Raul Huelves) is a real find. Rotonova is his debut album. Almost as entertaining as his music are the album's liner notes and song titles. Razl appears to be a very talented artist who takes music quite seriously but doesn't necessarily take himself that way. I have always felt that's the right attitude for musicians who play any form of jazz. Sometimes would-be fans are turned off by the overly serious jazz artist. It's OK to be a lighthearted human being sometimes, I always say.
"Snail Underground" is a blues-funk fusion dosed with an infectious and dastardly undertone. In ways the piece is a really fast modern version of "St. James Infirmary" combined with Béla Fleck's "Sinister Minister." (You can't get more descriptive than that, my friends!) Razl cooks. The heavy Leslie organ grooves and Hugo Astudillo's saxophone make good impressions too. Influences are heard. There's a little Zappa, a brief snippet of the progressive jazz-rock of Return to Forever, a smidgen of the Allman Brothers and a vocal section that for some strange reason made me think of Iron Butterfly! How wonderfully strange this is. Of note is bassist Bryan Beller, whom I recently had the pleasure of discovering for the first time. He is a talent who deserves close watching. Leader Razl is no slouch either. He's got the attitude, composing skills, chops and imagination to put together the right players for a very engaging outing. I suggest you drop your needlepoint and listen to this music now.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky