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Lettuce: Outta Here

Like Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Lettuce presents nonstop boogaloo funk/jazz. The hard-jamming band is an outgrowth of friendships dating back to high school and Berklee’s summer program 10 years ago. During that era Lettuce jammed incessantly and, according to its folklore, the band often showed up around the Boston area not having instruments or a gig. The group was always asking, “Let us use your instruments, let us jam and let us crash here”-thus the name. Now with plenty of working experience, tighter chops and help from friends such as guitarist John Scofield (Lettuce drummer Adam Deitch is in his band) and legendary trombonist Fred Wesley, among others, Lettuce reunited to rekindle the spark from its early days.

Energy overflows on Outta Here, especially on the title track and “Nyack,” which are laden with blazing brass. The funked-out jazz that this band of 25-year-olds produces is unrelenting, and the group’s impressive cohesiveness is the CD’s major attribute. Originality, on the other hand though, is pretty much nonexistent. The groves are primarily retro-styled compositions or covers that unabashedly draw from the ’70s rocking/soul inroads of Herbie Hancock, Tower of Power, Rufus and the grand master, James Brown. Prime examples are “Superfred,” featuring Wesley doing a take on Brown’s “Call Me Super Bad,” and “Twisted,” highlighted by guest vocalist Toni Smith that’s Chaka Khan and Rufus personified.

If the sounds and styles of Outta Here are new to you, you’ll probably be partying down; if not, you’ll likely be saying “I’m outta here.”

Originally Published