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Boasting a veteran line-up of New York/New Orleans circuit musicians who are known to many but not known to all, the quintet known as Circus Mind has enlisted a who's who of jazz/funk/ blues/fusion stalwarts and legends to appear on their self-titled debut album. The guests include Cyril Neville (The Neville Brothers), Leo Nocentelli (The Meters) Eric Krasno and Neal Evans (Soulive), Earl "Chinna" Smith (Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley), the Rebirth Brass Band, Jen Durkin (Deep Banana Blackout, The Bomb Squad) and Jason Crosby (Susan Tedeschi Band).
Armed with this knowledge, I hoped that I wouldn't be disappointed by the band yet thrilled by its sidemen. Once I placed the CD in my player and turned the volume up to a comfortable jam band level, I was not disappointed. Vocalist/ keyboardist Mark Rechler, guitarist Dave Berg, bassist Dan Ehrlich (since replaced by Chris Crosby), drummer George Hooks and trombonist Squantch have created a jazzy, southern funk, reggae-ska, soul, and gumbo-flavored musical feast.
The guests help take the band to a higher level, but Circus Mind is the real deal. Their songs seem to be both improvisational jams as well as complex, well-structured musical suites. Highlights of this 15 track collection include the funky "Spy Boy," "Slow Start to Nowhere" (which sounds like Little Feat meets the Radiators with a dash of The Meters), "Ground Zero," "Waiting to Be Saved," "Restart" and "Telefunken."
The groove laid down by Circus Mind is infectious. Their songs are drenched in the funky delta jazz-blues of Nawlins along with a bit of Times Square, with its Carribbean influences. The band has definitely been helped out by its friendsNeville, Nocentelli, and company help fine-tune the CD, which would have been excellent even without their contributions. The collective vision of Rechler, Berg, Crosby Hooks and Squantch is no less authentic. It's refined and exciting. Don't miss this one!
Track Listing: 1. Opening
2. Slow Start To Nowhere
3. Ground Zero
4. Plant The Seed
6. Home Base
7. On Our Way
8. Spy Boy
9. Waiting To Be Saved
10. Cigarette Bitch
11. Song Idea
12. Telefunken V72 Brain Stimulator
13. Organ Grinder
Personnel: Mark Rechler - vocals, piano, wurlitzer, rhodes, organ, synth & noise
David Berg - guitar, vocals, tenor banjo
George Hooks - drums
Dan Ehrlich - bass (all but #7)
Squantch ? Trombone #3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13
Cyril Neville - vocals #2, 8
Leo Nocentelli - guitar #3, 4
Earl "Chinna" Smith - guitar #6, 8, 13
Jen Durkin - vocals #4, 9
Eric Krasno - guitar #7, 12
Neal Evans - organ #7, 12
Rebirth Brass Band - #2, 14
Rainbow Trout Horns - #3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13
Jimmy Halperin - tenor sax, solo #9
Jason Crosby - fiddle #10, 12
Chris Theberge - percussion #2, 3, 4, 9
Steve Finkelstein - percussion #6, 8, 12, 13
Amy Peters - shakers, tambourine #2, 3, 7; backing vocals #3, 4, 7
The Diamonds - Gaynielle Neville, Dane Ruffins, Liryca Neville, Chris Butler - backing vocals John
Epstein - organ #2
D.J. Orion - turntables #3, 7, 13