By: Steve Itzkowitz
Now I'm going to go out on a limb here and say without listening to the first note of the latest Karl Denson project, the Karl Denson Trio (KD3), and say that it's going to be funky. The question of what kind of funk is the real reason to listen to this smooth groove and slightly spaced out funk machine. Here's the deal: Karl Denson delivers another knockout, plain and simple.
Right from the get go, the KD3 deliver the goods with the title cut, which hints at, believe it or not, the Steve Miller Band on the intro. Then, the beats bring in a Galactic feel, and the flute jam evokes memories of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Ron Burgundy would be jealous of how this jam keeps it up for nearly nine-and-a-half minutes.
The songs form groove patterns in their flow. Case in point, "Break Me Down," which follows "Lunar Orbit," is a drum-led tune that spotlights percussionist Brett Sanders, the younger brother of Tiny Universe drummer John Staten. The first of three versions of "Ghetto Fireworks" comes next. This first incarnation further teases jams that "Lunar Orbit" put in motion, but also brings up new lines of jazz and funk improvisation that inspired memories of Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F." theme from Beverly Hills Cop.
Denson's saxophone prowess is showcased during the "Plain Truth" which takes off right from the start to set even the pickiest jazz fan's foot tapping. The trip continues with the silky smooth "Won't Somebody," which conjures up the classic style of George Benson and other '70s smooth jazz cats. What's different here is a fuller dose of funk coming from Denson's soul.
During "Dingo Dog Sled," the KD3 hint at Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" and fire off the deepest groove of the album. The interplay between Denson and keyboardist Anthony Smith (Global Funk, Giant People) is evident as the pace of the jam picks up and never relents. Another exploratory visit to "Ghetto Fireworks (Pt. 2)" adds cohesiveness and brings back the flute back as the jam centerpiece. The trek goes on with the 9-minute "By Appointment Only" as the KD3 continues on their personal orbit.
From top to bottom, Lunar Orbit (Bobby Ace) scores with jazzy, spacey, funky, groovy, silky smooth sounds that make for an enjoyable journey each and every seamless ride. Who'd have thought that a flute could be so funky?
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