JEFF COFFIN MU'TET : : BLOOM (Compass '05)

Jeff Coffin assembled a stunning array of guest musicians to join him and his Mu'tet in the studio, and they have just released their newest album, entitled Bloom. It's always a treat to hear Coffin show off his incredible talents on the sax, and this album is a perfect showcase of his ever-evolving, original concept of how one goes about playing the saxophone. The Mu'tet, at least for this album, seems to be a core unit of Jeff Sipe on drums and percussion, Pat Bergeson on guitar, and Derek Philip Jones on bass, with Futureman and Victor Wooten of the Flecktones both sitting in on a number of tracks, as well as Bela Fleck himself. DJ Logic is featured on many tracks as well. This eclectic crew has really given the album a feeling all its own.

Beginning our journey is the tune they usually start the live set off with, "Move Your Rug," a tribute to the late, great Otha Turner. The fife used on the song is actually one Coffin purchased from Turner after a show for $50. Continuing with the N'awlins theme is "Better Do Your Thing," a funky, almost marching-band like tune with a very strong horn section including Roy Agee, Rahsaan and Roland Barber, Joe Murphy, and of course, Coffin himself. Mr. Johnny Neel takes care of the soulful lead vocals and keys.

"My Dog Chunks" has Coffin playing his sax thru a Q-Tron envelope filter, the same type Jerry Garcia used, which gives it a mesmerizing effect. This song captivates you with a mellow, subtle hook. "The Mad Hatter Rides Again" brings us back to the N'awlins funk theme dominant on this album. It's a bright, fun tune featuring DJ Logic on turntables. The title track "Bloom" is a joyous tune featuring the W.O. Smith Community Music School Choir, comprised of New Orleans youth. There is a fantastic piano solo by Tyler Wood, followed by a banjo solo from the amazing Bela Fleck, but it's really the kids who steal the show here. Their voices are perfect for this track, and they sound great mixed in with Bela's banjo.

There are too many great songs on this album to go over each one in detail. Coffin's influences are all over the spectrum, ranging from Wayne Shorter to Bill Frisell and back to the funk of James Brown. Every tune seems to have its own distinct personality, making this an enjoyable listen all the way through. It's interesting to hear Coffin making his own music, and I think he will continue to prove himself to be a strong leader in his own right.

Sam Katz
JamBase | Boston
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[Published on: 2/21/05]

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