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Slow Poke: Redemption

Slow Poke first convened in a casual jam session among four downtown New York fixtures a few years ago, and with its first proper album, Redemption, they’ve managed to keep that loose vibe intact while displaying a sharp focus. Anchored by the flexible, ubiquitous rhythm section of bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen-best-known as the funky tag team in Sex Mob-and fronted by reedist Michael Blake and slide guitar whiz David Tronzo, the quartet seems to aim straight for the groove band jugular with its mix of originals and eclectic covers; more often than not they land near very near to the bull’s-eye.

Throughout the album the Scherr and Wollesen craft sensuously imperturbable grooves, setting up expansive ostinato patterns that employ everything from New Orleans second-line rhythms to circular Malian trance. Blake and Tronzo pounce on these with a strange mix of somnambulance and vigor. From the sinister, rock-tinged “Jar of Hair,” which sports some gritty contrapuntal solo action marked by Tronzo’s wah-wah-soaked attack, to the atmospheric Morricone-flavored “Cilantro,” which Blake enters on spacey melodica, the album is a consistent feet-mover.

There’s plenty of fine solo action, but Slow Poke is all about low-key danceability for patchouli-kissed head-bobbers. It might get you to move, but don’t expect to be moved. Among the cover selections: Dave Brubeck’s “Sixth Sense,” Nirvana’s “Been a Son,” Rolling Stones’ “Shine a Light” and the Johnny Cash title track.

Originally Published