Tales of the Phatman
Avenue Entertainment Recordings
A multi-instrumentalist and veteran of the original Earl Klugh Group, Gene Dunlap leads his own ensemble through a variety of mellow-to-funky Tales of the Phatman. Though Dunlap labors on drums, keyboards, guitar, bass and synthesizer, the Detroit-based teacher avoids the over-layering and drum-loop issues that mar many such studiocentric efforts by multi-instrumentalists. Instead, the bandleader adds strong supporting elements to the mix, like Ray Manzerole's jumping, railing alto sax, which contrasts the needling, rubberband groove of "Things That Go Phunk in the Night," and Rayse Biggs' bittersweet, disarming flugelhorn on the synth-brushed "Keep Walking." Spongy groove tunes like the album's title track are spiked with tight, soulful horn hits, and the album's gentler pieces ("When All Is Said and Done," "She Used to Be in Love With Me") are laced with Perry Hughes' weaving guitar lines. Even a mellow cover of Janet Jackson's hit "Got 'Til It's Gone" takes on a lithe, after-hours feel thanks to a smart arrangement that highlights muted trumpet. These touches prove that Dunlap is a savvy musical craftsman, as well as a smart player in his own right.