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Bryan Steele and Group: Bryan Steele Group

A quintet of international musicians, the Bryan Steele Group offers a wide-ranging, thoughtfully executed group of tunes on an engaging eponymously-titled debut (Look Wild Records WP-DPRO-97002; 54:53). Recorded in Steely Dan’s studio, the album makes clever use of some growly ’70s keyboard feels, as well as an array of other influences-from world beat elemental to knuckling fusion. Steele & Co. choose covers carefully, reinventing the Police hit “Demolition Man” with a pulsating African drum beat at its core, and Peter Gabriel’s “Kiss of Life” with mysterious ambient sounds and expertly timed fusion-like passages. The Group also unearths John Coltrane’s “Song of the Underground Railroad” with a wide-band soul feel. The originals here are equally wide-ranging and provocative, from the sparkling percussion and electric guitar motion of “The Sirens” to the gently Brazil-walking and soothing “Artemis and Apollo.” The band doesn’t hit you over the head with any of its many influences-instead, the threads are woven into a texture which defies simple categorical description.

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