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More groove-laden contemporary jazz from Allen Toussaint's NYNO. Amadee Castenell plays a gritty R&B tenor (and flute on "Angels"), backed by a funky ensemble consisting of Toussaint's piano on four tracks, pianist Chuck (not Charlie) Chaplin on three others (he also plays Fender Rhodes on one), the smooth synthesizers of Larry Sieberth, Scott Goudeau on guitar, David Barard on bass (seven tracks), Chris Severin on bass (the other five tracks), Russell Batiste on drums (five tracks), Bernard "Bunchy" Johnson on drums (seven tracks), percussionist Bill Summers (three tracks), and percussionist "Afro" Williams (six tracks).
This disc is well-produced; not one note is out of place. Castenell plays fervently (and delicately when necessary, e.g. "Crystal"). The grooves are ably laid down. Castenell's fundamental problem at this point may be making himself heard in a crowded field where his voice is not yet developed enough to stand out from the crowd. This is no criticism of his ability – he is obviously a first-rate talent. But there are an awful lot of contemporary jazz discs out there now, especially in the wake of the inimitable soprano stylings of Mr. G; Amadee, if he is going to make a splash, will need to distinguish himself more in the future. From the sound of this one, he certainly has the ability to do so.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.