Lettuce: Superfred

"Blow me some Trane, brother!" So said the Hardest Working Man in Show Business to tenorman Robert McCollough in his 1970 hit single, "Super Bad." James Brown had always reached across the aisle to tap into the currents of jazz and by this time had set the soul music world on its derriere by throwing the almighty backbeat under the bus in favor of The One. This concept, which defied years of rhythmic emphasis on the sacred, rim shot-enhanced two and four, would alter the structure of R&B forever. With his 3-part 45 release, Brown had settled the groove into an intense, driving pulse, fueled by the well-oiled Bootsy Collins funk machine.

The crack East Coast-based funk group Lettuce has succeeded in capturing the essence of the original, without losing any of its fire. But in place of the good-God yowlin' Godfather, they offer the irrepressible trombone of Fred Wesley, who does no backsliding here; his lines fit snugly over the precision funk vamp with an almost percussive attack before trading fours in a compelling dialogue with tenorman Sam Kininger. Super Fred may not be "blowing some Trane," but he's definitely on the right track.

March 10, 2009 · 0 comments


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