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Album Review

Throughout the '90s, while doing sideman work for various celeb artists (Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Newton-John, k.d. lang), saxman Lincoln Adler also ensembled with the colorful smooth jazz-funk band Rain-Bo Tribe. Showing a penchant for a more artsy jazz fusion style even back then, Adler later progressed to doing the harder-edged jazz full time with the San Francisco based quartet Times 4. Drawing on a wide range of styles including soul, Latin, funk, hip-hop and rock, this ensemble — including keyboardist Greg Sankovich, bassist Kevin Lofton and drummer Maurice Miles — created a one of a kind hybrid that proved appealing to lovers of blues, rock and cutting-edge jazz. Driven by Miles' aggressive 5/4 drum groove, the opening track "M.O." gets this disc off to a punchy and percussive start, with Adler alternating eloquent melodic lines with staccato flourishes over a shimmering organ bed. Just as the drink it was named for might do, "Mojito" seduces the listener into a sensual mood, incorporating trippy chill elements and more bluesy gospel touches. Balancing that laid-back vibe perfectly, the thoroughly modern "Cell Phone" keeps the blues present but is all about the feel good groove. The disc's two brief "ludes," "Enterlude" and "Exitlude" offer hypnotic swirls of otherworldly sounds (and croaking keyboards and horns, on "Enterlude") that do what adventurous music is supposed to — transport the listener to a different dimension. Whatever vibe Times 4 shoots for — contemplative cool on the title track, energized Rhodes-tinged funk on "Hericane" — the main thing that shines through is a tight group dynamic with exciting and loose playing that draws the listener into the fun.

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Relations, Times 4
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