Live in Tokyo – Lettuce
Kufala Recordings 0069
Could The Beatles have recorded "The White Album" with Pete Best behind the kit? Maybe. Could the Police have turned out Synchronicity with Henry Padovani in the guitar chair? Anything is possible. But could Lettuce have dropped Live In Tokyo with Jeff Bhasker behind the boards?
I don't think so. Bhasker was canned late last year in favor of keyboard genius Neal Evans and, consequently, the eight-piece funk mob has cut a record of epic proportions.
No hard feelings though: Bhasker is a talented cat. And Pete Best was a good drummer (no comment on Padovani). But Evans' entrance into the Lettuce fold has yielded results that Bhasker never saw.
And could not have foreseen. Only last year, Lettuce were a derivative bunch of P-Funk nuts with a penchant for Thrust-era Herbie; today, they’re funk royalty.
But you don't have to bow down to them or anything. All they ask is that you shake it when they come to your town (which isn't too often, considering Evans and guitarist Eric Krasno are full-time members of Soulive).
Or Tokyo. It's difficult to catch a stateside Lett show these days but, should you come across the opportunity, do not pass up these world class jams. Take "Break Out"" for inspiration: buttery guitars, a warm, three-piece horn section (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone and trumpet a not so subtle nod to the classic James Brown arrangement), slammin' drums (for shame if you're not familiar with the incomparable Adam Deitch) and nasty, nasty organ donations round out this tune. Do you want more?
Try "Kron Dutch" on for size. A product of the infamous Krasno/Deitch songwriting cooperative ("Joe Sample" anyone?), this one's a real mother: imagine Earth, Wind And Fire running through Erykah Badu's songbook (yes, it's that good!) and you might begin to get the picture.
But you'll never know for sure until you pick up this tremendous record. You'll never know until you're bumpin' through Lett's angle on Wes Montgomery's "4 on 6," or jamming out to some older tunes treated to fresh arrangements (the new jam in "Reunion" has Neal written all over it — check this one out). Live In Tokyo is the joint; you’ll snag a copy if you know what’s good for you.