"One of the funkiest jazz albums you'll ever hear."

- Carl Abernathy (Jazz Blog)

"Mo’fone’s return to the studio to record a follow-up to “Surf’s Up” is pretty good news for jazz fans. “Surf’s Up,” released in 2003, is one of the funkiest jazz albums you’ll ever hear. The band’s cover of Weather Report’s “Black Market,” which leads the album, has enthralled several of my middle-aged friends and their teenaged children. Jim Peterson dances around the melody with his alto saxophone while Larry De La Cruz on baritone saxophone and Jeremy Steinkoler on drums provide a New Orleans-based funk beat underneath. Peterson and De La Cruz exchange instruments for a straight-up funk rendition of Billy Cobham’s “Crosswind.” If the song had been recorded three years earlier it would have been a perfect fit on the soundtrack of John Singleton’s update of “Shaft.” The song, like John Shaft, moves with a jaunty swagger that’s bound to make more than a few women stop and take notice. Mo’fone’s version of David Murray’s “Flowers for Albert” is my favorite track on the album. Danny Bitker joined the group on bass saxophone for the tune, which allows De la Cruz to play the flute. Joined by Peterson on alto saxophone, they form a sort of free jazz trio that reminds me a little of Odean Pope’s Saxophone Choir. The difference is that Steinkoler again drives the song with a funky New Orleans beat. The group illustrates its Crescent City chops on Earl King’s “Big Chief.” And the guys show they’ve been influenced by music from around the world when they play Abdullah Ibrahim’s “African Market.” Steinkoler’s percussion work on the song is outstanding; he sounds almost like he’s performing in an African production of “Stomp." I envy my friends who live in San Francisco because Mo’fone, which is based there, plays Bay area shows all the time. But at least there’s a new album coming. We all need a little more groove in our lives."

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