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Larry Goldings & Bob Ward: Voodoo Dogs

David Adler By

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One of the most original and satisfying groove experiments yet. Organ whiz Larry Goldings and producer/engineer/guitarist Bob Ward team up to create music that melds James Brown, Tower of Power, contemporary dance music, and of course, jazz. The beats are heavy, the bass is fat, the tunes are strong and diverse. Ward's guitar playing is often not unlike that of Goldings's regular partner, Peter Bernstein. But Ward looms larger as a creator of beats and ambience, and it seems they've invented a term for his magic touch: "drum and sample voodoo," as the credit reads on each track. His programming is sophisticated, cutting-edge, and most important, musical. Purists of all stripes who refuse to accept electronic elements as legitimate creative tools ought to hear this record and take note.

In addition to the superior writing, guest appearances by players such as bassist Avishai Cohen, saxophonist Tim Ries, and vibraphonist Joe Locke elevate Voodoo Dogs above what might have devolved into studio noodling. While "Vicoden," "Here We Go," and "People Unite" veer a bit close to radio-friendly R&B for this writer's taste, killer grooves like "Keep a Thing Happening," "Uganda," and "Spellbound" make the disc a winner. Much like Marc Cary's recent (Jazzateria), Voodoo Dogs proves that it is possible for jazz musicians to pursue electronic avenues without "selling out."

Title: Voodoo Dogs | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

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