Having previously reviewed Rare Blend’s self-titled EP release, I see they have added well over 25:00 worth of new tunes. It seems they also dropped a slow tune, “Isabella” this release. It is worth repeating that Rare Blend is Vic Samalot on guitar, Bobbi Holt on keys, Jeff Scott on bass, Paul Stranahan on drums, and Tom Doggett guesting on sax. This is guitar-driven, jazzy, funked up, fusion-ish jam. Samalot stretches amply as many of the compositions are primarily written by him. The occasional synth or bass lead filler improv pops up here and there.
Strongest cuts are “Blue Samba”, “Z’hadum”, “Blue Diamond”, “Funky Ovulation Shuffle”, and “Kitchen Cinque”. You will hear Santana and the little-known A. Mouzon, L. Ritenour, T. Bolin project Mind Transplant
on portions of the above. Funk undercurrents are strong with rock drive and full jazz sensitivities in Rare Blend. If more fusion-fired unison lines, (bassist Scott knows the formula), widely variant time sigs, and less boogie-down grooves are used in this group’s future releases they might even echo such acclaimed jazz fusionists as Tribal Tech, 5 After 4, and F-5.
I hear very strong potential in Rare Blend. Notably on “Time Upon A Time” they really wowed me in the piece’s first 3:10 with a unique compositional voice but thereafter they fell back into bland lounge jazz standards for the duration. Avoidance of been-there-done-that, jazzy breaks and groove-a-thons will only serve to better Rare Blend. I’m a firm believer in “comfortable jamming territory” for a musician tends to lose listener interest rapidly. Being good at the expected is laudable but not excellent. Overall, Rare Blend’s Infinity
is a decent CD, outdoing their earlier EP.
Reprinted with the permission of John Collinge and Progression Magazine .