The Modern Beat Combo is a British group with an affinity for American mainstream jazz and jazz fusion, which they demonstrate through the swinging, supple grooves they consistently put out on this album.
Their skill at fusion is shown best by their version of Miles Davis' "It's About That Time" where Steve Harding's electric piano maintains a funky groove over the thick, bubbling electric bass of Dave Good and the simmering percussion laid down by John Baker and Rosko. Bill Evans' "Funkallero" gets a similar workout with Good's heavy bass bounce reaching into Jaco Pastorius territory.
The band does just as well in the acoustic realm. Bobby Watson's "Wheel Within A Wheel" features Lee Goodall's alto sax sliding joyfully over Watson's slippery melody as Good and Harding dance underneath him. Good's nimble bass harmonics and Harding's energetic piano are also highlighted on enjoyable versions of two jazz evergreens, Dizzy Gillespie's "Birk's Works" and Duke Ellington's "Caravan." The latter also has some intricate rhythmic byplay by Baker and Rosko.
The quartet dabbles in more exotic textures on two tracks. "Koto 4" has the band dancing a core of spidery, harp-like guitar (presumably by Goodall), and "Beryl" works up layers of repeating minimalist patterns for five minutes, which the guitar and bass play off.
This group has fun injecting familiar jazz melodies with playful rhythm charges and is also not afraid to do a bit of exploring. Their music cruises and grooves in pleasant and sometimes surprising ways.
It's About That Time; Funkallero; Birk's Works; Wheel Within A Wheel; Caravan; Koto 4; Barbados; Beryl.
Barbados, 8) Beryl
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