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Album Review

New York label ObliqSound's P&D relationship with Finland's Ricky Tick label is really a fruitful one for those on this side of the Atlantic, who should sit up and take real notice. For starters, this association brought Finnish reed and woodwind boss Timo Lassy's debut, The Soul & Jazz of Timo Lassy, to American shores in November of 2007. Drummer, arranger, bandleader, and composer Teppo Mäkynen, aka Teddy Rok (Five Corners Quintet, Teddy Rok Seven, Jukka Eskola) produced that monster of an album, as well as this one. But the Stance Brothers' debut album, Kind Soul, is not primarily a jazz record. Jazz certainly has its plentiful place here, but there is much more to this groove-drenched mosaic. Teddy Rok put this trio together — Isaiah Stance on vibes, keyboards, and percussion; Dwayne Stance on bass and guitar; and drummer Byron Breaks — to play some pieces he wrote that he imagined as an orgy of beats and samples, but all the music here was played by a band. Funk, soul, exotica, early-'70s jazz, and hip-hop all come together in a brew that is as finger-popping and natural as it is savvy. The set kicks off with the A-side of the single "Steve McQueen." Dwayne's guitar in full-on Billy Butler groove mode kicks it off before Breaks comes in mid-chorus, and then a dubwise, simple electric bassline and those vibes — laying down a hip, nocturnal, and utterly cool lyric line — carry the tune through its repetitive, even hypnotic vamp. There is a terrific vibes solo by Isaiah in the heart of the tune, but it's in the snare and cymbal breaks and the guitar that the tune gets its feel. When "Prayer" falls in immediately on its heels, with some killer hand drumming and string samples laid in the backdrop, it feels like a mirror image of the tune, like a TV theme gone all druggy. Tyrone Desmond guests with a rolling whip-smart tambourine on a smoking cover of George Duke's "Capricorn," and Diamond T. Sparks helps out on "Dynamite" with a wrist-snapping snare intro accented in the backbeat by a funky, liquid bassline and those vibes repeating the head and covering the New Orleans strutting funk in the groove. Check the flip side of the single, "Jay's Lament," as well for a mellow, post-midnight Bob James-styled stroll into seduction and space. Rok can call it a lament if he wants to, but this is pure love jam, all loose, subtle, and smooth. "Blow Back" features Desmond's guitar laying in a sneaky wah-wah lead over Dwayne's taut rhythm lines, and always those drums and vibes bring multidimensional rhythms out of the ether and right into your face, without once losing the essential, simple, and heavyweight groove. The jazzy soul in the set's closer, "She May Be Moody," is the most lyric tune on the disc, but it's one with a whole different level of surprise and sophistication — the harpsichord touch from Isaiah is a nice one and the cowbell solo is utterly monstrous; let's just say this jam goes out on a whole different level than it began. This is highly recommended for listening, dancing, partying, and...other stuff. Check it.

Kind Soul, The Stance Brothers
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