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The Funky Side of Life

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Album Review

Madlib's Sound Directions project follows in the footsteps of Yesterdays New Quintet by presenting a small group of jazz players (most, if not all of them, Otis Jackson himself) loosely playing a down-home and funky brand of jazz music perfectly suited for a hip lounge. The Funky Side of Life is heavy on the covers — not standards — and that makes a big difference. (Jackson usually just needs a good riff to cover his vamping style of keyboards, and this roster of tracks services his needs perfectly.) The first non-original comes straight out of left field; "Wanda Vidal," originally by the extraordinarily gifted Brazilian Marcos Valle, is the perfect type of light and loungey tune that Jackson can run rings around. The rest are nearly as obscure, including Billy Brooks' "Forty Days" (although A Tribe Called Quest fans will recognize the hook), Oliver Sain's "On the Hill," David Axelrod's "A Divine Image" (with excellent ARP and Hammond work here), and the only famous cover, Cliff Nobles' instrumental hit "The Horse." The lo-fi lurch of nearly all Madlib's work is in effect here, and besides the rather anonymous atmosphere of the recording, it's an enjoyable piece of latter-day jazz-funk by rap's most visionary music-maker.

The Funky Side of Life, Sound Directions
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