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January/February 2000

Chris Bangs Project
Dazzle
Instinct Records

The Chris Bangs Project, named for its British acid-jazz drumming leader, strikes with bold, in-your-face rhythms on Dazzle (Instinct Records INS 429-2; 50:36). Bursting out of the gate with the jumping "Guiding Light," Bangs and company go lightning-fast with roaring trumpet and jamming Fender Rhodes, setting the stage for a wild ride. What follows, however, is somewhat of a mixed bag, from the neo-soul/disco rhythmic thumps of "Watuzi Strut," to the funk drag meets raging drumbeats of "Soft Touch," marked by knuckling sax work which rocks and jumps through the melee. Bangs sets startlingly solid foundations throughout, making the power-trip horns swing on the anthemic melody "Play to Win," and keeping "Always Be the One" true to its soul roots, despite a distracting pinched-falsetto vocal. The album's title track may provide clues to the Bangs Project vision: a weird, otherworldly fusion piece, "Dazzle" layers subway-train lightning percussion under some smooth, Earl Klugh-like guitar work
by Nigel Wallace Price for a post modern, somewhat disturbing feel.

Originally published in January/February 2000
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