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New World Funk Ensemble: New World Funk Ensemble New World Funk Ensemble

A famous baseball manager once compared his job to holding a bird in your hand. If you hold on too tight, you’ll kill it, if you don’t hold on tight enough, it’ll fly away. Putting together a big-band modern dance operation is kind of like that. You want to be tight, but not so musclebound that you choke off the vital juices that make swing a natural, rather than a forced result. The New World Funk Ensemble has done a good job of striking that balance on its self-titled disc (Turnipseed Music, TMCD.15 64:56). On one hand, it can lock into hard driving compositions like “20th Century Fox,” and the disc-opening “Si-Si’s Strut” and then flow to the loping “Scorpion Bowl”, and the vaguely eastern flavored “New World”, an intoxicating layout highlighted by Michael Skinkus’ percussion. Elsewhere. the material is refreshingly free of the gratuitous retro references that dot a lot of similar discs, with noteworthy solo spots from sax player Scott Bourgeois and trumpeter Grant Harris.

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