Joel Frahm & Bruce Katz: Rock Steady
Project A (Anzic ANZ-6101)
Chris Vitarello (guitar), Marty Ballou (acoustic bass), Jerry Jemmott (electric bass), Lorne Entress (drums), Ralph Rosen (drums).
Composed by Aretha Franklin.
Recorded: NYC, May 18-19 2009
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
Aretha Franklin’s upbeat shake-your-ass funk excursion from 1971 is transformed into a slow and steady shuffle by Frahm and Katz. Frahm himself is transformed, stylistically speaking, into Fathead Newman for this tribute to the Queen of Soul. He doesn’t so much play the lines as he sings them in much the same inflections that Franklin used with her voice. Combined with Katz’ soul-soothing electric piano, this song with a trombone added would feel right at home on a Crusaders album, circa The Second Crusade. As if the tinkering wasn’t enough, the bridge is completely rewritten, to a more heavier four-chord progression. Vitarello adds the finishing touch with guitar voicings falling somewhere between Larry Carlton and John Scofield.
If the tempo was only sped up a little bit, this could entice people to get up and dance. As it stands, “Rock Steady” is a fine head-nodder.
Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron
Tags: 2000s jazz