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Shilts: HeadBoppin (2006)

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Shilts: HeadBoppin How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Many may know Paul "Shilts Weimar by his fronting the British urban jazz funk group Down to the Bone. His solo release, HeadBoppin, is another side to this sax specialist from London.

A musician since his early teens, Shilts has toured all over the world, backing such jazz artists as Nancy Wilson, George Shearing and Mel Tormé. He's also opened for many popular American acts, including The Temptations, Four Tops, Drifters and Rose Royce.

Co-produced by Shilts and his Artizen label co-owner Rick Braun, Headboppin is as its name suggests—a collection of finger-tapping, head-bopping grooves. Nine of the ten tracks were written by Shilts, some in collaboration with side musicians or guests, including keyboardists Jeff Leach and Bill Steinway.

The album grabs attention right away with "Looks What's Happened, a happy-go-lucky opener that features the multi-talented Shilts on tenor sax, keyboards and programming, aided by Braun on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jeff Leach on acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, the funky rhythm guitar of Ross Bolton, Ricky Lawson on drums and Lenny Castro on percussion.

Vocalist Siedah Garrett co-wrote and performs with Shilts on "Got Love, a soulful jazz-funk piece. With Freddie Washington on bass alongside Bolton and Lawson, Shilts and Garrett deliver a danceable groove that can easily cross over into pop or R&B. The title song continues this stream of grooves, although slightly weakened by the absence of Lawson. Castro plays percussion and hi-hats, but the other drum sounds are programmed—a noticeable difference from all but one of the other songs.

The lone cover song is Stevie Wonder's "Tuesday Heartbreak, featuring Shilts on tenor, with a guitar solo by Chris Standring, backed by Braun on trumpet and flugelhorn, Nick Lane on trombone and Steinway on keyboards, with Washington, Bolton, Lawson and Castro carrying the rhythm. Braun and Lane help Shilts and his rhythm section close things out with "Mrs Magic. Ricky Peterson's Hammond B-3 gives this soul-jazz piece some extra sizzle.

Throughout HeadBoppin, Shilts reinforces his role as a bandleader, carrying the melodies without being overpowering. Even when he solos, the tight rhythm section gives more than just background. Though his sound is comparable to such sax men as Gerald Albright and Richard Elliott, Shilts is in his own zone.

Track Listing: Look Whats Happened; I Knew Youd Like This; Break the Mold; Good Evans; Got Love; HeadBoppin; Say Something; Tuesday Heartbreak; 2 Pesos for Bud; Mrs Magic.

Personnel: Shilts: tenor sax, alto sax (2), programming (1-6, 8-9), keyboards (1-9); Rick Braun: trumpet (1, 3-4, 8, 10), flugelhorn (1, 8), vocals (9); Jeff Leach: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes (1); Ross Bolton: guitar (1-8, 10); Ricky Lawson: drums (1-5, 7-8, 10); Lenny Castro: percussion (1-2, 4, 6-7, 9-10), hi-hats (6), tambourine (8); Bill Steinway: keyboards (2, 7-8), Fender Rhodes (7, 9-10), acoustic piano (9); Freddie Washington: bass (2-10); Ricky Peterson: Hammond B-3 (3, 10); Jeff Lorber: piano (4); Siedah Garrett: vocals (5); Simon Carter: Fender Rhodes (6); Christ Standring: solo guitar (8); Nick Lane: trombone (8, 10); John Pondel: electric and acoustic guitars (9).

Record Label: Artizen Music Group

Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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