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April 1998

Charles Fambrough
Upright Citizen
NuGroove

On his charming, rich effort Upright Citizen (NuGroove NUG-3003; 49:09) bassist Charles Fambrough hits the nexus between modern grooves and traditional performance wizardry that so many of today's artists miss. Fambrough's rhythm tracks support a purpose- they're not just hip-hop window dressing. "It's Not Easy Havin' Fun" boasts a jittery modern rhythm section under George Duke's outstanding piano work, for example, and "Main Street" bustles as a high-stepping, classically funky romp with Fambrough anchoring on bass and Grover Washington, Jr. piping the lead line. Fambrough's reverence for the classics is not just limited to his nifty retro album cover, either-"Fun City" boasts an old soul swagger with John Swana's trumpet and some cool-cat keyboard styling, and the Braziljazz-tinged "Bright Eyes" holds a club-style intimacy as Jon Lucien sings with a Coltrane-like husky resonance.

Originally published in April 1998
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