233

Toph-E & the Pussycats: Live in Detroit

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz is a schizophrenic music: it desires performance on the concert stage to a quiet, polite tuxedo and evening dress audience; at the same time, it seeks out a rowdy, drunk bar or festival crowd. Jazz has largely been able to cater to both populations successfully, but has certainly tended to the former extreme (at least in recent years). Toph-E and the Pussycats is a funky quintet that plays an assertive brand of soul jazz injected with a contemporarily smooth flair, aiming to reverse this trend.

In short, this is a jazz band with a rock band attitude. Bassist Will Lee handles two duties, delivering the vocals and serving as master of ceremony, with equal ability, steering the band through a live set at the 2004 Detroit International Jazz Festival. Exuding loads of personality, the band blows through soul-laced versions of Duke Ellington and Harry Carney's "Rockin' in Rhythm, Don Grolnick's "Human Bites and Miles Davis' "All Blues. All songs are dominated by Clifford Carter's churchy keyboards and David Mann's various saxophones, both of which march to the tune of Les McCann and Horace Silver.

True performers, Toph-E and the Pussycats produce two performance masterpieces in a Hank Mobley-meets-Lou Rawls take on Bill Wither's "Just the Two of Us and the Eugene McDaniels-cum-Les McCann/Eddie Harris piece "Compared to What. The former is a perfect mid-performance ballad to heat up the audience, while the latter rocks with a momentum all its own and serves as a perfect way to start wrapping the disc up. The penultimate tune, a super soul jazz vehicle, is amazingly well-received, helping cap a well-paced and thoughtfully constructed festival set.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Short Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Short Stories
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Like, Strange" CD/LP/Track Review Like, Strange
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "Janus" CD/LP/Track Review Janus
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Astoria Roots Live" CD/LP/Track Review Astoria Roots Live
by James Nadal
Published: May 17, 2017
Read "LifeCycle" CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Punch" CD/LP/Track Review Punch
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 29, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.