Randy Muller was the undisputed leader of two funk/disco groups in the 1970s and 1980s, Brass Construction and Skyy, the latter which turned a phone call and a Chic-like guitar strum into the #1 R&B smash “Call Me.” These days, Muller is a record-label owner and producer who has released his first self-described smooth-jazz record. Muller certainly hasn’t lost his funk roots, as his good-time party project’s profusion of beats and sassy vocals keeps the sweat flowing. But this surprisingly good project is 21st century all the way, as hip-hop, rap, jazz, funk and nu-school coalesce in a CD that must be turned to high for maximum effect.
Muller’s flute is the lead instrument, but instead of a flighty, new age sound Muller goes for breathy, fast and fun playing perfectly in sync with the 13 tracks. “Call Me” gets a new twist, of course, minus the phone conversation but keeping chorus vocals in the form of the rapturous Karamel on the U.K.’s 4Flavas. Muller’s synth was big in the day, and of “After Midnight” and “Westchester Nights” he mixes that in with flute on sexy, midtempo, easy-jazz jaunts. Surprises lurk around every corner: “Standin’ in Da’ Rain” offers a female sing/rap against a scratchy downtempo backdrop, while “Bala incorporates a bossa nova vibe, vocalese and loud, crashing drumwork.
Groovin’ U is highly recommended, an urban smooth-jazz CD done right. Muller’s schooled plenty of youngsters here.