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Barbara Dennerlein: Junkanoo

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For her second Verve release, organist Dennerlein has surrounded herself with some pretty impressive company, which seems to elevate her own playing to a new level. Longtime associates like drummer Dennis Chambers, vibist Joe Locke and guitarist Mitch Watkins (bandmates from her days with Enja) are back on board. But it’s the presence of ringers like David Murray, David Sanchez, Randy Brecker, Frank Lacy and Howard Johnson that provides the real spark here.

The funk-rock opener, “A Cat Strikes Back,” has a swaggering Brecker Brothers-ish quality and features some open ended soloing by Randy himself. The soul-jazz boogaloo, “Walk On Air,” grooves along steadily with earthy commentary by Brecker on muted trumpet, Howard Johnson on tuba, Murray on tenor sax and Dennerlein getting down and dirty on the B-3. “Just Play,” full of tight horn hits from a four piece section, swings ferociously and features some heated exchanges between Lacy, Brecker, Murray and Dennerlein.

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