Here are the two CD reviews I wrote for the new issue of Relix (Pete Townshend cover):
This Chicago septet-plus-guests, led by usually-more-out-than-this saxophonist Mars Williams, hasn’t released an album in four years. Chicago being the home of workaholic musicians, its members were probably busy doing other things. The delay between releases amps up the anticipation level somewhat, though, and for the most part listeners will likely be pleased. Nothing here has the anarchic energy of Williams XmarsX group – Liquid Soul is a party band. The infrequent rapping is misguided at best, but the variety of grooves and cameo appearances livening up the album makes it pretty much a must-have for white boyz lookin’ to get down. With guest personnel on virtually every track, moods vary, but final cut “Kong” is a definite highlight, built around skyscraper-toppling riffs from guitarist Vernon Reid.
People People Music Music
Skip the watered-down acid-“jazz” opening track, “Forgotten Travelers.” Proceed directly to “Dfu,” a gently lilting Afrobeat workout with killer trombone work from Josh Roseman. Groove Collective means well. It’s fueled by a humanist positivity that permeates all aspects of its music. This means the lyrics, as on “What If,” tend toward sappiness. So skip that track, too. But the rest of the album is enjoyable, showcasing the band’s rhythmic flexibility (they do funk, mambo, drum ‘n’ bass, swing, and a few combinations of the aforementioned) and compelling horn charts. The frequently retro organ tones are welcome, too. People People Music Music is the sound of a group that wants nothing more than to be unobtrusively pleasurable to hear. Might as well let them do it.