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Jim Cifelli: Groove Station

Trumpeter Jim Cifelli has previously recorded straightahead jazz with his New York Nonet, so a title like Groove Station might make his latest seem like an attempt to cash in on some airplay with something a little, shall we say, lite. Don’t believe it. Groove Station brings the funk, but this Cifelli outing includes musicians who have backed no less than Wilson Pickett, James Brown and Maceo Parker-this ain’t freeze-dried jive. This becomes apparent in the title track, where bassist Mike Leslie, drummer Ray Marchica and guitarist Dave Phelps set the scene with a no-nonsense groove that stays down and dirty.

“You Better Believe It” borrows the rhythm of Horace Silver’s “Senor Blues” and a chord twist of Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island,” but the group’s personality outshines the references-even as they quote “Watermelon Man” in the coda. Here, and on the more straight-laced “Young Dan,” Cifelli sounds like an authoritative soloist even when he keeps his lines simple and to the point. As a composer, he’s willing to take risks. The theme of “Time Out” sounds like a funk lick slowed to ballad speed, with an interesting twist in the bridge. And the rich flugelhorn solo proves that Groove Station can satiate the folks who want music for the body as well as the mind.

Originally Published