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Arno Haas: Magic Hands (2013)

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Arno Haas: Magic Hands How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Could it get any funkier than this, any deeper into the groove? It's doubtful. Saxophonist Arno Haas has, with Magic Hands, crafted a sound that's as tight and danceable as anything that James Brown's Famous Flames conjured back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"You Better Watch Out," a blast of fusion, opens the set with a slashing guitar, tight horn work, funky bass lines, all sweetened by a swirling organ breeze, with the leader slicing through the sound on a hot alto saxophone. "Leap of Faith" is more of the same. This is music meant for good times, for dancing.

Born and based in Germany, Haas traveled—at the suggestion of the set's producer and main keyboardist, Tom Saviano—to Los Angeles, home to so many of the great musicians, to record Haas' songs. The results are very American in mood—soulful and urban, with the precision and polish of the great Motown Records arrangements of the early 70s.

"Don't Doubt My Love" veers slightly from the soul groove, sounding more like a dreamy, pastoral tune from the songbook of saxophonist Jan Garbarek, with Haas on the soprano saxophone. The title tune rides a relaxed groove and gets the feet moving, and "Spin Cycle" kicks the fusion mood up a couple of notches, with Haas sounding tangy on the soprano horn.

These are rousing sounds that say it's time to party, time to pull on the dancing shoes.

Track Listing: You Better Watch Out; A Leap of Faith; Don't Doubt My Love; B Dog C; Night Moves; One More Dance; Magic Hands; Spin Cycle; Sahara Nights; All For You.

Personnel: Arno Hass: saxophones; Michael Friedinger: keyboards (1); Carmen Grillo (1, 4, 7, 9) : guitar; Joel Taylor: drums (1, 4,7, 9); Thomas Nell: trumpet 91); Scott Canady: bass (2, 5, 6); Brian Bromberg: bass (1, 3, 4, 7,9); Tom Saviano: keyboards (2,3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10), alto saxophone (8); Jeff Golub: guitar: (2, 5); Thom Rotella: guitar (2, 3, 10); Lenny Castro: percussion (2); Lee Thornburg: trumpet (2); Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (3); Arno Lucas: percussion (3, 10); Randy Walderman: piano (4, 7, 9); Land richards: drums (5, 10); Tony Moore: drums (6); Bill Champlain: guitar, vocals (6); Shaun LaBelle: bass (8); Stokely Williams: drums (8); Dave Berry: guitar (8);Everette Harp: tenor saxophone (8); Ramon Yslas: percussion (9); Stanley Sergeant: bass (10).

Record Label: Foxtones


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