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Sex Mob Does Bond – Sex Mob

Ropeadope Records 93054-2

There's always something that strikes me about avant-jazz musicians.
Besides talent, it helps if they have the cojones the size of watermelons
the arrogance to push their musical ambitions on to others in the same
as the pretentious film fan looks down at anyone who would spend money on
anything other than obscure independent or foreign flicks.

This thought shouted out to me within the first few minutes of listening to "Sex Mob Does Bond." (And for those who think that this is going to be one long tirade against the genre, read on.)

On this album, the five members reinterpret themes written by composer
John Barry for the James Bond series of films. Slide trumpet and mellophone
player Steven Bernstein arranges numbers from "Goldfinger", "On Her
Secret Service", "From Russia with Love", "The Spy Who Loved Me", and "You
Only Live Twice". The Mob had already recorded versions of Goldfinger
Live and Let Die on its first CD.

Unless you're a major Bond aficionado, a lot of the material will mean
nothing to you. So, the interpretations, at times, could be of anything or
more originals based on the Barry-composed soundtracks. That's just what
Bernstein does to bookend this work. He creates Dr. Yes. And, for
what it
mattered to these ears, other than a taste of the familiar Goldfinger
theme, a hint of Bond's signature musical theme and a somewhat straight
version of Nobody Does It Better, I couldn't tell what was being

In some manner, that makes things a little too easy for the Mob. To take
numbers that aren't known basically allows them to do what they want with
'em and establish little more than their playing. Hell, I would have been
much more satisfied if Bernstein would have written additional numbers and
just dubbed this release "Based on Bond." That's how much I liked Dr.
and how little most of it means.

I must give him credit for the ingenious manner of putting these tunes together. He constructs 13 numbers as if they were a soundtrack to one film. "Dr. Yes" ends up being the opening and closing credits. Between them are Acts I and II and an Intermission. Bernstein and the rest of the Mob, which also includes special guest John Medeski on organ and the Sex Mob Soul Choir, do a splendid job of setting up and following through on each of these sequences. Essentially, the material follows a dramatic arc of a Bond film — cavorting with a female, courting danger because that's just what he does for a living, encountering that danger, fighting for his life and, once he makes it to safety, caressing another gorgeous model.

While there are moments when the avant-jazz tendencies get the best of
the Mob and its work, such as going for the blaring and unexpected just as
something interesting is going on, the "Sex Mob Does Bond" does prove to be
an exciting outlet for jazz enthusiasts.

And for anyone like me, who doesn't have the series memorized, skip all the 007-related stuff and just pretend the Sex Mob is just coming up with all this on their own.

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