Cory Weeds – Let’s Groove: The Music of Earth Wind And FireCellarLive CL041017 64:36****

Swing on!

(Cory Weeds – alto saxophone; Steve Kaldestad – tenor saxophone; Mike Ledonne – Hammond B-3 organ; Dave Sikula – guitar; Jason Tiemann – drums; Liam MacDonald – percussion #2, 5, 6, 8)

Cory Weeds must have a doppelgänger, as he can’t possibly do everything he does. Recording, producing, playing in clubs, taking people on jazz tours, booking talent for a jazz club in Vancouver, and the list goes on. Yet here he is again on another release as Executive Producer, playing alto sax instead of his usual tenor, and to top it off album cover photographer. This one devoted to the music of the iconic R&B, soul, funk, jazz, group Earth Wind & Fire entitled Let’s Groove.

With an interesting front line composed of Weeds and tenor saxophonist Steve Kaldestad, and backed by the rocking Hammond B-3 of Mike Ledonne, the band developed a burly sound that is perfectly to the material. Opening with the title track “Let’s Groove”, the band does what the title implies and finds a solid foundation with everyone locked in. Weeds plays with an infectious delivery that sets the pace for all the players  to work off each other. The first sign of Liam Mac Donald is on congas on “Getaway” which adds a reassuring voice to the ensemble, which digs in with a full throttle attack.

Using the room-rocking organ sound which was so prevalent in the 50s and 60s, Mike Ledonne’s arrangements of these EWF classics fit this musical bill of fare. “Devotion” delivers the goods with some solid playing by everyone  that includes some nifty chord changes that adds to the contour shifting harmony. In addition to the title track, there are a couple of other numbers that gained Billboard rankings and are featured on this release. “Shining Star” became a #1 hit in 1975 and the more hummable “After The Love Has Gone” reached #2 in 1979. On the former, drummer Jason Tiemann lays down a shuffle beat that Ledonne uses to build his bouncy structure, while Weeds’ alto flits into his excursion. Guitarist Dave Sikula dances over his fretboard in scintillating fashion.

As for the closer, Weeds states the opening line which is picked up by Kaldestad and then the two dart into the melody. All this done in a mid-tempo swinging style. When Ledonne jumps in, he does so in an organ registration reminiscent of organist Milt Buckner ( who remembers him), all of which leads to a jumping ending.

Let’s Groove
You And I
The Way Of The World
Shining Star
After The Love Is Gone

—Pierre Giroux