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The Uptown Jazz Collective: She Do What She Do

Dan Bilawsky By

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She Do What She Do is hard to pin down. While continuity is created through solid performances from the rhythm section, and bluesy baritone saxophonist BJ Jansen, the material and stylistic presentation is all over the map.

The most palatable selections come in the form of standards, as delivered by vocalist t.c. III. His style comes straight out of the Eddie Jefferson school of singing and, while an occasional tendency to warble or yodel can get in the way of the music, these are rare occurrences. He delivers pleasing vocalese ("Moanin") just as well as ballads ("Yesterdays"), proving his mettle time and again with some sophisticated, if occasionally over the top, scat soloing.

The non-standard material, making up two-thirds of the album, is a bit more puzzling. A near-three minute interview/discussion about roots ("Real Talk") kills the musical programming-momentum; the 21-second album introduction—taken from the opening of "Latin"—isn't really necessary; and an alternate take on the title track seems like a last minute entry to help fill out the album. The other tracks, while equally diverse, actually help to show the group's full breadth and depth. The collective tackles spirituality ("Psalm 150"), generic blues in a Joe Williams vein ("She Do What She Do"), and spoken word—of the Beat poetry-meets-Def Poetry Jam variety—over an easy-to-digest funk background ("Latin").

The album is dedicated to a long list of recently departed jazz greats, including saxophonist James Moody, pianist-educator-jazz advocate Dr. Billy Taylor, vocalist Abbey Lincoln and T.C. III's mother, Philadelphia organ legend Trudy Pitts, making the inclusion of her "Psalm 150" a poignant statement. T.C. III's voice soars over the stable rhythm section work on this performance, and Floyd Davis delivers a passionate, spoken word sermon that stirs emotions and heats things up during this ten-minute spiritual sojourn.

While The Uptown Jazz Collective has plenty of great music to present, and clearly believes in the philosophy that variety is the spice of life, too much spice can occasionally cover up the natural flavors within the music. Still, She Do What She Do is a fine program of music that hints at great potential for development, and future success for The Uptown Jazz Collective.

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