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It was Paddy McAloon from the British pop band Prefab Sprout who famously made fun of the fascination with cars and girls on the hit "Cars and Girls," but, indeed, there is a grain of truth behind the joke. Many pop songs are in fact love songs about girls, but what about the cars? A singer-songwriter like Bruce Springsteen has eulogized life on the road in many of his songs, but it is a rare experience to hear a tribute to the cars themselves. Nevertheless, on the album Cars, by the Scandinavian band Elektrojazz, focus is entirely on the magic of four wheels.
There is a limitation, though, the band decided to dedicate itself to the seventies. As the musicians explain in a note: "We decided to make a musical tribute to the greatest cars of this cool automobile decade. Each track is dedicated to a specific model. We have car chase music, late night highway cruising tunes and funky driving grooves."
Part of the fun of the album is to speculate if there's any connection between the car and the music. Is it possible that the slick, ambient Fender Rhodes chords and fat, shiny brass on "L'Esprit" and "Stingray" reflect the impossible curved elegance of a Lotus Esprit and a Corvette Stingray?
Such speculations aside, the album simply works as a superbly seductive sheet of funk rhythms where the sounds from trombonist Anders Larson and keyboard-player Anders Rose soar and the tight rhythm section of bassist Matthias Petri and drummer Anders Svendsen keep everything in the pocket. The guest players, percussionist Rune Harder Olesen and trumpeter Gerard Presencer, add extra spice. Presencer has a tone reminiscent of the great Freddie Hubbard and those enamored with the trumpeter's fusion period will find much to love about this gem of record that shouldn't be hidden in the garage. Instead, the wise thing to do would be to take it out for a spin.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.