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Respectable Groove: Mysterious Barracudas

The word “respectable” in the band name Respectable Groove catches the ear as a double entendre. You understand that the group is respectable because it draws from the upright musics of classical, world and jazz in its groove-forging activity. But you also worry that the band is respectable in the sense of not being condemnable or really praiseworthy. And you fear that Respectable Groove may be too concerned with being the former to avoid the latter.

As evidenced on its new album Mysterious Barracudas, the ensemble, composed of Evelyn Nallen’s recorder, Richard Jeffries’ double bass, Ichiro Tatsuhara’s percussion and David Gordon’s keyboards (primarily harpsichord), has an undeniably ear-catching sonority, and most of this music has a consistent, driving pulse that captures the second word of the group’s name. But at first the melodies, from Renaissance manuscripts, classical composers such as Francois Couperin (who supplied the title track), traditional tunes and original compositions, feel merely pretty rather than interesting.

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