Lettuce: Speak E.Z.
Sam Kininger (tenor sax),
Rashawn Ross (trumpet), Ryan Zoldis (alto sax), Neal Evans (keyboards), Eric Krasno (lead guitar), Adam ‘Shmeeans’ Smirnoff (rhythm guitar), Erick ‘Jesus’ Coomes (bass), Adam Deitch (drums).
Composed by Sam Kininger, Ryan Zoldis & Erick ‘Jesus’ Coomes.
Recorded: New York, 2007
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Blues, rock 'n' roll and jazz have undergone a turbulent evolutionary process over the decades, with their tenuous nocturnal rendezvous producing a bastard subgenre called funk along the way. While some hardcore bopoholics would dismiss this music as procreative pabulum purloined from the pocket changes of honest, dues-paying jazz and blues players, no one can deny the role funk has played in revitalizing the rhythm section and broadening the audience. Besides, those who ignore the power and influence of funk are missing out on some good, unclean fun.
The powerhouse East Coast-based horn band Lettuce has previously offered up fare from the tables of James Brown, Tower of Power, Bootsy Collins and George Clinton. But with "Speak E.Z." these funk-ups are serving some retro-home cookin' from the back-alley kitchens of Stax, Atco, and Allen Toussaint's Sansu. It's refreshing to hear this well-oiled machine paying homage to how it was done 'way down river back in the '60s and '70s. I hear Booker T., Steve Cropper, The Mar-Keys, The Meters, and a bit of The Bar-Kays in this cut. The essence of Memphis and New Orleans soul food always included a driving backbeat, nasty chicken-lickin' Fender guitar, growling B-3, and plenty of space in the bass for the pocket. On this track, Lettuce has convincingly captured that feel. The results go down like a plate of collards, cornbread and pulled pork – once you've had a taste, you'll always want to come back for more.
Reviewer: Bill Barnes