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11/14/13

Nils Landgren Funk Unit
Teamwork
ACT Music + Vision

The prolific Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren and his band express little interest in reinventing the wheel on Teamwork. Why bother when that wheel is a timeless mix of proto-funk and soul-jazz balladry—and when the likes of Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Till Brönner are willing to come along for the ride, albeit briefly?

Sample’s Rhodes keyboard solo on “Green Beans,” one of several tunes on the album that Landgren had a hand in writing, is emblematic, but there’s no shortage of sounds that will resonate for fans of the Crusaders or, say, Earth, Wind and Fire. Indeed, Magnum Coltrane Price (on bass, vocals, vocoder, synthesizer and flugelhorn) sees to that almost singlehandedly. There’s also ample room for Landgren and his bandmates to reminisce or improvise in funk rhythm while adding contemporary hip-hop and rock touches here and there.

Because much of the music derives from jam sessions, a freewheeling mood prevails, enlivened by lyrics—“get serious, get a job”—that, well, get the job done. For all the high spirits, though, the arrangements are tight, whether the band is taking its cue from the Crusaders’ hit list or James Brown’s good foot. Teamwork may well disappoint listeners who appreciate the more harmonically adventurous side of Landgren’s extensive discography. But for now he appears happy to underscore one of the albums chanted refrains: “You want the funk? You got it!”

Originally published in October 2013
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