Mo’ Blow ‘Gimme the boots’ (ACT) 4/5

German label ACT has carved out something of a reputation as a catalyist for new pianists, but in this case it is for the sound of the fender rhodes and jazz fusion flavours that are showcased here. Mo’ Blow are a collective of twenty something German musicians who are heavily influenced by the 1970s sounds of the the jazzier hues of the Headhunters, the funky backbeats of the JBs and the grittier side of David Sanborn. The two principal members of the band, multi-reedist Felix F. Falk and keyboardist Matti Klein, have co-written the majority of the numbers here with additional contributions from bassist Tobias Fleischer. However, it would be both inaccurate and premature to dismiss the group as jazz-funk wannabees since there is a good deal of subtletly in the performances and if there are definite hints of the 1970s, this merely serves as the pretext to some improvisational interplay and soloing. This is illustrated by the fender-led piece ‘Ray’ with keyboard and saxophone in unison and on the jam-style groove of ‘The Wendland revolt’ with catchy riffs and an Eddie Harris inspired distorted saxophone sound from Falk. The jazzier repertoire of the Headhunters is conjured up on ‘Papa’s pancakes’ with an extended keyboard solo and bass clarinet that certainly takes a leaf out of the Bennie Maupin school and some basslines that Paul Jackson would feel at home with. A lyrical ballad, ‘Winter came early’ demonstrates that the group can operate in a different mode when required and there is some delicate saxophone and fender playing here. Overall the arrangements are tight and the intimate sound works extremely well. If the funk element can occasionally be a little repretitive, it has to be recognised that the genre thrives on musicians creating a lasting groove. Mo’ Blow are one to watch out for.

Tim Stenhouse