Flea Market – Vinyl
Fog Shack Music 508
The batting average for relatively new bands combining elements of
jazz, funk, reggae, etc. into a cohesive sound is staggeringly low
considering the proliferation of them over the past decade or so. Report
cards would barely reach the passing mark for most of the American groups
hoping to create a global sound. Most have their strong points (in an
inspired horn section, a gift for world-inflected Peter Gabriel type pop, a
knack for reggae rhythms, etc.) but fail to marry the myriad elements
trying to integrate.
The group is anchored by the informed rhythm section of bassist Geoff
Vaughan, drummer Alexis Razon (who is especially stellar throughout), and
percussionists Antonio and Sean Onarato. Whether exploring deep Latin
rhythms, deep funk or dub reggae, these guys are not only rock solid in
providing authenticity but also inventive. It's their bedrock that gives the
horn section of Doug Thomas (sax, flute) and Danny Cao (trumpet and
flugelhorn) room to so ably fly. Both horn men pack a lot of emotional
into their lines.
Perhaps Vinyl's wide range of talent is best examined through "Summertime,"
the disc's only standard. The long running jazz joke is "How many female
vocalists does it take to cover 'Summertime'?" The answer: "Apparently all
them." No matter how many times the Gershwin chestnut has been mined, it's
many listeners will be prepared for the amount of interesting directions
Vinyl takes the over-played classic. The song starts with a bluesy, Rahsaan
Roland Kirk horn-line. It's turned into a reggae tune and
psychedelia-meets-prog-rock keyboard exercise before it's over. And it's
brilliant, giving all members of the group (guitarist Billy Frates' solo is
especially tasty) room to move.
"Flea Market" has the occasional drawback. The straight-ahead dub of the
title track fails to say anything and Frates and keyboardist Jonathan Korty
sometimes – though rarely – find themselves out of place. These are small
detractions considering how Vinyl has codified the sound and feel so many
other musicians are after. "Flea Market" offers something for fans of just
about any style.