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I am puzzled by the marketing of the new Tom Scott albumSmokin' Sectionas "Tom Scott & the L. A. Express," since there seems to be no identifiable group "feel" to this program, and the tunes were recorded with three different contingents of studio musicians. But this quibble aside, this is one of Scott's best albums in years. His traditional funky groove is present on several songs such as the opening title track (with Scott's trademark multi-sax-layered sound) and "Just Takin' a Walk" with horn section. Scott's past work on the lyricon is recalled on "Lost Again," only now he blows a wind synthesizer. "Lonely One" and "If I Could Cry" showcase Scott in sensitive ballad settings better than anything I can recall throughout his entire recording career. The compositions (six of the eleven are by Scott) are particularly inspired and well-realized, in contrast to the funky head charts we're used to hearing. The use of singer Patti Smyth on "Ode to Billie Joe" seems like curious choices on both counts, but it's surprisingly effective; Scott's tenor sax adorns the emotive delivery by Smyth. The closest thing to a "group sound" happens on the closing cut, which was recorded live at the Blue Note club in Tokyo; band alumnus Max Bennett's (who contributed some of the best tunes in the original L.A. Express' repertoire) "TCB in E" is therealsmokin' section of this disc. It kicks butt!!! (Windham Hill Jazz 11379)
Tracks:Smokin' Section; I'll Still Be Lovin' You; Cruisin' Bayou; Lonely One; Ode to Billie Joe; If I Could Cry; A Short Visit; Just Takin' a Walk; Lost Again; The Beat is On; TCB in "E". (69:07)
Tom Scott, saxophones, strings, horns, woodwinds, WX-5 wind synthesizer; Buzzy Feiten, Paul Jackson Jr., Dean Parks, Wah-Wah Watson, Robbie Nevil, guitar; Tim Heintz, Alan Pasqua, Robbie Nevil, Steven Dubin, keyboards; John Pena, Andre Berry, Chuck Berghofer, bass; Harvey Mason, Vinnie Colaiuta, drums; Lenny Castro, Alex Acuna, Ralph MacDonald, percussion; Gary Grant, Oscar Brashear, trumpet; George Bohannon, trombone; Pete Christlieb, tenor sax; Joel Peskin, baritone sax; Phil Perry, Patti Smyth, lead vocals; Robbie Nevil, Phil Perry, Lynne Scott, Terry Wood, backgound vocals.