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The Dave Weckl Band: Rhythm of the Soul

Robert Spencer By

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One interesting fact about the Dave Weckl Band's Rhythm of the Soul is that it will soon be available in five different music-minus-one play-along formats: one each for drummers, keyboardists, bassists, guitarists and saxophonists. So if you want to strike a monster groove like the Davemeister himself, now's your chance.

Rhythm of the Soul is muscular keyboard-based funk (featuring the tickled plastics of Jay Oliver) that no doubt will inspire hordes of aspiring funksters to plug in and play along in the garage. Bob Malach is along on tenor sax, soloing gamely in a neo-Arnett Cobb mode and pitching in on the unison theme statements. This is drummer Weckl's chance to show off the chops he used to power Robert Plant into the stratosphere, and he takes full advantage of it.

The Wecklers kick things off here with the chunky "The Zone," where Oliver gurgles and keens, and Frank Gambale rebukes and exhorts on guitar. It's a booty-shaking opener, but the bluesy "101 Shuffle" takes us even higher. Kudos here to Buzz Feiten on guitar, who, well, has earned his nickname for playing guitar, not for a haircut or an artificially-induced sunny disposition.

On "Mud Sauce" Weckl lays down a serpentine line, tastily taken up by Steve Tavaglione on soprano sax and then Buzz and the gang: Oliver and Tom Kennedy on acoustic bass. (Kennedy also plays acoustic bass on "Song for Claire," a sweetly nasty number for Weckl's baby daughter.) The groove is inventive and a mile wide, and once again Buzz shines for artful deployment of his wah-wah.

"Designer Stubble" sounds something like "Rock and Roll Hootchie-Coo," or another one of those thick Seventies rock grooves. Buzz, Buzz, we hardly know ye. Our favorite guitar savage leaves the scene for "Someone's Watching," a cloudy synthesizer thing (thanks to Oliver on keyboard) where Tavaglione chips in with some Kenny G-laden but effective soprano. "Transition Jam" is a vehicle for Kennedy: fluent funky electric bass lines at 60 mph. On "Rhythm Dance" Mr. Kennedy lays down a nice ostinato in a Stevie Wonder mode. He's earned his stripes. To round things out, "Big B Little B" is a playful, calm feature for Oliver. Then comes "Good Night," which takes the Band out the funky way it came in.

These guys must have been listening to AM radio at the same time I was – but they were listening harder. Weckl and Co. are good at what they do.

Title: Rhythm of the Soul | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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