THE GREYBOY ALLSTARS — A Town Called Earth (review)

THE GREYBOY ALLSTARS — A Town Called Earth album cover Album · 1997 · Acid Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
In the late 80s a culture arose around DJs who would spin hard to find old funk jazz and instrumental RnB records. Eventually musicians caught on to this demand for old school dance grooves and the acid jazz movement was born. Much like an actual DJ set, these bands didn’t fuss much over melody or arrangement and headed straight for the funky groove that kept the party going. The acid jazz scene arrived a bit late in the US, but when it hit the west coast in the early to mid 90s, it hit big. The Greyboy All-Stars were probably one of the most popular bands from that 90s west coast scene and “A Town Called Earth” was their release in 97 when the scene was starting to fade.

This CD pretty much provides the vibe that people were looking for at the time with plenty of funky jazz that draws heavily on artists such as The JB’s, Eddie Harris and Herbie Hancock. Like most other bands in the acid jazz scene, the All-Stars don’t bother much with melody and their arrangements are bare bones simplicity, but the grooves and solos on here are very good for some young cats. The lack of sophistication in these younger bands might have to do with the fact that these were funk-jazz musicians who were mostly influenced by previous funk-jazz bands, instead of coming up through a more technically demanding post-bop scene as the 60s and 70s inventors of funk jazz had. For instance, by the time Herbie Hancock was experimenting with funk, he had a wealth of musical knowledge behind him in other genres.

Anyway, as mentioned earlier, the All-Stars grooves hold up well against the classic bands they emulate and the solos that fill these tracks are good too, particularly woodwinds whiz Karl Denson. Most of the funk numbers on here are solid, but the band is less successful when they head to more artsy abstract material. The CD’s title cut is an overly lengthy shot at a retro avant-garde psychedelic jam complete with amateur sitar playing and backwards noises, but these more outside type attempts are just not this band’s forte. Listening to this entire CD can get fatiguing, but there are plenty of good tracks on here that would compliment any funk/jazz/dance mix tape.
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