One enjoyable spin of Music for Life told me why all my west-of-the-Rockies friends were so adamant I hear the Boulder-based The Motet. By creatively throwing some favorite musical ingredients (referred to as "Americubafrican Groove") into a steamy, frothy stew, The Motet have established themselves as more than just a newfangled, jack-of-all-trades jam band.

If The Motet acts as drummer Dave Watts's (r)evolving musical identity, he's configured this version as a sleek, funky-ass, Afro-Cuban sestet that just wants to stretch its jazz chops. It's evident that each world-trained member is adept at a handful of styles. But Watts' unique approach to arranging and the other players' contributions on each instrument separates them from other American "world" bands: they play real instruments, are unfettered by useless jam, and play difficult stuff in a way that makes sense. Music for Life doesn't come off as a false attempt to "capture the live sound" bottled with production. This combo's got chops. And they've loaded the disc with oodles of melodic interplay and player-conscious listening.

It's all quite simple, really--in a world of watered-down jam bands that profess "all styles of music," The Motet can back it up and rely on being refreshingly different. They may have set out to stir up the public about sensitive issues, but the instrumental Music for Life succeeds in delivering its message with a sunshiney sound that concentrates on gnarly grooves.

Scott Caffrey
JamBase | New York
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[Published on: 9/25/04]

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