100

Jim Cifelli: Groove Station

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jim Cifelli: Groove Station With three highly-acclaimed nonet albums to his name, trumpeter Jim Cifelli switches gears for his fourth album, the aptly-titled Groove Station. While soul and R&B grooves suffuse the disc, there is no doubt that Cifelli and his sextet come from a jazz sensibility.

With a collective résumé that includes work with Wilson Pickett, Spencer Davis, James Brown, Little Richard, and the Blues Brothers, Cifelli's group clearly has the background and responsiveness to tackle this programme of his compositions (with the exception of "Young Dan," composed by bassist Mike Leslie). And while a direct comparison would be unfair, Cifelli clearly approaches the music from a jazz sensibility, much as the vintage Brecker Brothers did. While not as overtly funky as the Breckers—although the driving "Old School" is certainly in the ballpark—the longer-form nature of some of the charts and their subtle metric playfulness give the material a more vivid range of colours and a stronger compositional flavour, rather than being merely a series of approachable grooves to be used as vehicles for extended soloing.

Opening with the title track, an altered blues that, with its Rocco Prestia-esque bass figure from Leslie, sounds like vintage Tower of Power, Cifelli quickly establishes the modus operandi for the whole record: infectious grooves and memorable melodies that set the stage for soloing which mostly remains on the inside, but goes out just enough to create an appealing sense of tension. Cifelli has a bright and vivacious tone that is refreshingly lacking in the usual post-Miles work of most modern trumpeters. Although Dave Douglas has never approached anything this overtly funky, Cifelli sometimes sounds how Douglas might in such a context.

While the entire ensemble clearly understands the scope of the material and digs into it with complete commitment from the boogie of "You Better Believe It" to the lighter lilt of "Time Out," the deep funk of "Chaotica," and the grungy blues of "Long Time Comin'," it's guitarist Dave Phelps who stands out, bridging the gap between straightforward rhythm and blues and the more advanced jazz harmonies that infuse Cifelli's writing. Capable of shifting from warm Wes Montgomery octave lines and chordal accompaniment to dirty, down-home raunch on a dime, Phelps is the surprise of the set, a less-than-well-known player who, on the strength of his work here, deserves a crack at broader exposure. Edgy and visceral, yet with a cerebral side that gives his more raucous solos harmonic weight, Phelps is clearly someone to watch.

While it departs from the more mainstream work of his nonet, Groove Station doesn't feel out of place in the broader context of Cifelli's career. Like his work with the nonet, where Cifelli's clever arrangements give a smaller group a big band sound, this release finds Cifelli's arranging chops intact. Earthy enough to move the most sedentary listener but intelligent enough to give the more discerning listener plenty to chew on, Groove Station works as a solid confluence between mind and body.

Visit Jim Cifelli on the web.


Track Listing: Groove Station; You Better Believe It; Time Out; Chaotica; Young Dan; Sertao; Long Time Comin'; Old School

Personnel: Jim Cifelli (trumpet), Dan Cipriano (alto and tenor saxophones), Dave Phelps (guitar), Will Boulware (keyboards), Mike Leslie (bass), Ray Marchica (drums), Joel Frahm (soprano saxophone on "Chaotica")

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Short Notice Music | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "En Rouge" CD/LP/Track Review En Rouge
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 6, 2016
Read "In Denmark 1959-1960" CD/LP/Track Review In Denmark 1959-1960
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 18, 2016
Read "Los Guachos V" CD/LP/Track Review Los Guachos V
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 1, 2016
Read "Out & About" CD/LP/Track Review Out & About
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Rumba Con Flores" CD/LP/Track Review Rumba Con Flores
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 15, 2016
Read "Live At Umbria Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Umbria Jazz
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!