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Mocean Worker: Candygram for MoWo!

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Adam Dorn, a.k.a. Mocean Worker, made his name assembling jazz-funk collages out of old records, new beats and guest spots from well-known jazz musicians. His new album extends the brand with a fresh batch of catchy, upbeat dance tunes that get jazz cred from the likes of slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein and guitarists Bill Frisell and Charlie Hunter.

Is this a serious record? No. Is it fun? Sure. Dorn takes elements of jazz-the swing, the syncopation, the instrumentation-and turns them into easily digestible dance music. But Candygram for MoWo! wears thin after a few listens. Even at four or five minutes, most of the songs drag because of the monotony. “Shooby Shooby Do Yah!” (how does he name these things?) is as uncomplicated and trite as the soundtrack to an Old Navy commercial. “Swagger” is basically one horn blast and one piano chord looped over a Fatboy Slim beat.

It’s hard to imagine a more reductive tune than “Sistas and Bruthas,” with its insipid shouts of-wait for it-“sisters!” and “brothers!” Smooth-jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair gets to solo on this cut; that’s about right. Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who died in 1977, shows up on two songs (Dorn has sampled him before), but the liner notes don’t reference the source material. Worst of all, the contributions of Frisell and Hunter are lost in the mess of “Sho Nuff Now.” That’s nuff now indeed.

Originally Published