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Fattburger: T.G.I.F.

One of contemporary jazz’s longest-running bands, Fattburger has been performing a genial brand of smooth jazz for over 15 years. The title of its latest album, T.G.I.F. (Shanachie 5081; 39:55), stands for “Thank God It’s Fattburger,” and it’s an example of the group’s playful approach to its music. The members of this popular San Diego-based band are very able musicians, but T.G. I. F. is a surprisingly bland effort; comprised primarily of easy-listening pop-jazz tunes that rarely generate much fire, the album feels oddly lacking in vitality.

That is not to say that there are no noteworthy tracks, however; the gentle “Mum’s the Word,” which drummer Kevin Koch wrote for his mother, and the Latin-flavored “Heaven,” which evokes a tropical-island feel, are particularly effective. And Fattburger does generate some heat on a few tracks. A few years ago, the group had a hit with its version of “Oye Como Va”; deciding to revisit the Santana songbook, they remade “Evil Ways,” which starts out as a faithful though undistinguished reading, but morphs into a rollicking jam that’s propelled by Evan Marks’ fiery rock guitar. T.G.I.F. closes with the high-energy “2 Fatt,” which is led by a horn section. The problem is that there are not enough dynamic moments like those on the album.

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