Rock Candy Funk Party ‘We want groove’ (Provogue) 4/5

Guitarist Joe Bonamassa is diversifying into new territories while not losing his blues-rock roots and this latest project focuses on an all instrumental set that uses at its inspiration the early ‘We want Miles’ double album that Miles Davis recorded after his lengthy absence from the music scene during the mid-1970s, but is influenced in equal measure by Weather Report, Earth, Wind and Fire and even Jeff Beck and Led Zepplin. In actual fact, only one number sounds anything like the jazz-rock pieces Miles had assembled, but this is a funk-tinged jam session-style with some tasty grooves, the best of which feature in the second half of the CD. Moody and downbeat is the atmospheric ‘The best ten minutes of your life’ which is a truly slow burner of a number weighing in at over ten minutes and with delicate 1970s keyboards from Renato Neto that conjurs up the Temptations classic ‘Papa was a rolling stone’ theme. If the bassline by Mike Merriott could be off a Headhunters slow jam, then the keyboards are heavily influenced by Chick Corea circa Return to Forever. In an uptempo vein with a definite nod to the Headhunters is ‘Dope on a rope’ with some fine guitar soloing from Bonamassa. One of the most compelling pieces is the final on, ‘New York Song’ which is a soulful ballad that showcases the skills of Neto who sounds as though he has been soaking up the sound of one Donald Fagen. One might question whether there is a truly distinctive ensemble sound given the band’s disparate influences, but there is no disputing the quality of the music generated and its sheer listenability. Joe Bonamassa is definitely in a highly productive stage of his career and future releases promise to be just as open-mided. Tim Stenhouse

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