Jazz CD Reviews

Patrick Lamb – It’s All Right Now – Patrick Lamb Productions

Soulful jazz from the Northwest!

Published on June 21, 2013

Patrick Lamb – It’s All Right Now – Patrick Lamb Productions PLP-18912, 46:22 ****:

Patrick Lamb – saxophone, vocals; Jeff Lorber – Rhodes, B3, Wurlitzer; Dwight Sills – guitar; Michael White – drums; Alex Al – bass, vocals; Abe Laboriel Jr. – drums; Paul Jackson Jr. – guitar; Teddy Mulet – trumpet; Steve Jankowski – flugelhorn; Tom Tinko – saxophone; Jens Wendleboe – trombone, bass trombone, Li’l John Roberts – drums; Tony Maiden – guitar, vocals; Ron King – trumpet; John Roberts/Stevie Ray Mays/Sherrie Lewis; Dave Weckl – drums; Rick Braun – trumpet; Nate Phillips – bass; Marlon McClain – guitar; David Mann – horns; Nehemiah Booker – vocals)

For decades, the musical community has struggled to classify the soul jazz/fusion genre. Smooth jazz, contemporary, hybrid…the list is endless. Popularized in the early seventies by Ramsey Lewis, Tom Scott And The L.A. Express, Brian Auger, Weather Report and many others, the musical output was hook-driven, accessible and very harmonious. Also utilizing funk (Parliaments), the frenetic tempos recall soul acts like James Brown. The influx of synthesizers proved to be an effective complement to the sharper tonality of reeds and horns. Though not revered by jazz enthusiasts, the movement brought jazz into the mainstream. Recently, Oregon’s “relocated” favorite son Patrick Lamb has breathed new life into this style of music. In addition to touring with Diane Schuur, Bobby Caldwell and Gino Vanelli, the transplanted Mississippi native has refined soul jazz to modern audiences. He embraces classic soul (Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Wilton Felder and of course James Brown) and merges it with a heartfelt saxophone vision. In Jeff Lorber (an accomplished keyboardist and leader of The Jeff Lorber Fusion), he has encountered a partner who shares this vision.

From the opening percussive hooks on “Walk Away”, it’s clear that It’s All Right Now is a groove fest. Surrounded by Lorber’s  Rhodes piano (which includes a great solo in the middle), Lamb’s lead saxophone is breezy and engaging with overdubbed chorus and a wicked bass line by Alex Al seals the deal. In a tribute to Maceo Parker (“Maceo!”), the hard driving funk (with Dwight Sills on guitar), is combined with a breezy fusion jam. Lamb stretches out on saxophone, bringing intensity on the solo. Lorber who contributed to the arrangements, groups a cadre of horns with an underlying piano vamp that sets off Lamb’s melodic lines.

Having some fun, Eddie Harris’ title track is transformed into a party scene with unison chant and dialogue. Again, the underlying groove is infectious. Another cover (“I Can’t Quit Her”) gives Lamb an opportunity to show off his vocal chops. Faithful to the Al Kooper version, the take is more contemporary than raw soul. But things click when the smooth hooks are employed, especially on co-written pieces by Lamb and Lorber. “Sweet Tea” is just that, tuneful and cadenced with a tight rhythm section. Lamb’s sax playing is assured and uplifting. On a jazzier note, “Your Thang” has a combo feel to it, while “Get Wid It” relies on its soulful construct.

The closest thing to a change of pace is a relaxed blues-infused groove on Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands”. But the finale (“Fuse”) is the instrumental highlight. Lamb is dynamic and the addition of Rick Braun’s “cool” trumpet runs along with some key shifts drive the song. Lamb and Braun trade solos effortlessly and Lorber is explosive on his Rhodes. This cut coalesces all of the musical influences.

It’s All Right Now is good music and the fun begins with the very first note.  Fans of this release should check out Pick Up The Pieces (which consists of six tracks) for more “good stuff”.

TrackList: Walk Away; Maceo!; Comin’ Home Where I’m From; It’s All Right Now; I Can’t Quit Her; Sweet Tea; Your Thang; Get Wid It; Grandma’s Hands; Fuse

–Robbie Gerson

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