Jim_payne-sensei_span3
May 2004

Jim Payne
Sensei
Savant

Drummer Jim Payne was a founding member of the Slickaphonics, produced two albums for Medeski, Martin & Wood and has written a couple of books about drumming. This album shows him to be the Billy Cobham or perhaps the Buddy Rich of funk drumming-his playing is crisp, precise and technically impeccable.

The album includes guitarist Bill Bickford and organist Jerry Z, and the style of music follows in the jam band-techno-Headhunters mold-if there is such a mold. The tunes, all originals, cover several facets of this style: slinky, quasi-New Orleans funk ("Usta B Chicken Lickin'"), mysterioso funk ("Nice to Eat Again"), hard driving, down-home funk ("Scram"), ballad funk ("Cool It"), etc. The performances stay in the three- to six-minute range and individually don't wear out their welcome.

If there's a problem, it's that things start to feel mechanical by the end of the CD. All the tight-fitting rhythms and hip sounds deserve some looseness. But Payne really is a model drummer and the group really has its act together.

Originally published in May 2004
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