Mo’ Blow – Gimme the Boots (*)
(ACT Young German Jazz Series 9671-2. CD Review by Alison Bentley
Funk-filled German jazz quartet Mo’ Blow feels like a blast of sunshine after a lot of rain- the kind that makes you want to turn the music up recklessly loud. This new album Gimme the Boots has a big band’s punch: anarchic energy played with incredible precision.
Call Me Milroy jumps to attention with a 70s Average White Band feel, full of snappy blues-scale-based riffs. Felix F. Falk’s slap-tongued sax sparks off drummer André Seidel’s huge backbeat. Club rhythms jump out from behind Matti Klein’s Fender Rhodes solo, before it all drops effortlessly back into the original groove. The Wendland Revolt tips its hat to the 70s with wah wah sax, and Rocket Swing struts and frets over Tobias Fleischer’s stomping electric bass. In Slingshot, Fleischer’s slap bass buzzes with energy. Falk mostly pays tenor but his baritone grunts here recall the Stax sound. In Headbutt, he intersperses his guttural sounds with some rhythmic high cuica-like squeaks, over powerful gospel and even disco beats, with occasionally walking bass. Seidel’s sound is amazingly full- as if he’s playing several hundred cymbals at once. Gimme the Boots (they all wear matching red boots on stage) opens with Falk on didgeridoo (!), Fender Rhodes riffs building like a guitar over an impossibly danceable backbeat and juicy baritone, with a Maceo Parker edge to the tone.
There are slower pieces, with shifty time signatures, like the ambient Ray: this is a little like St Germain’s Tourist, but without samples, and with growly bari. Winter Came Early is more melancholy, Falk sounding a little smoother, like Kirk Whalum. Klein admires Esbjörn Svensson and Brad Mehldau, and you can hear their influence in his fine keyboard solo. In Sunsqueezed, Falk plays trancelike percussion, with some Balearic beats bristling among Seidel’s drums.
When Bunny Went Bonkers has sax like a gruffer Grover Washington, a Steely Dan groove and singable hook lines. Papa’s Pancakes is almost Afrobeat, with sunny sax/keyboard harmonies that could have been played by Michael Brecker’s EWI.
Mo’ Blow have worked together for over 10 years, and it shows. You want to dance but not miss any of the intricate arrangements. This is high-vis jazz funk, where the big, bright picture doesn’t blind you to the subtle details.
(*) This review is from a backlog of unreviewed CDs. LondonJazz News has recently moved to a new system of CD review commissioning, which is being co-ordinated by Catherine Ford.