Israel-born, New York City-based guitarist Oz Noy’s motto—“It’s jazz, it just doesn’t sound like it”—echoes across his groove-oriented 15-year recording career as a leader, highlighted by early gems like his 2006 debut Oz Live and 2007 disc Fuzzy. Starting with his Twisted Blues series in 2011, Noy veered into hit-and-miss themed releases. His latest collection, Booga Looga Loo, is also roots-oriented, but with more consistent results.
Noy has always built top-notch accompanying bands, and Booga Looga Loo is no exception. Steve Ferrone (Average White Band, Tom Petty) plays on half the disc’s tracks, teaming with bassist Will Lee and organist Jerry Z on the originals “Boogaloo Fever” (with banner solos by Noy and flutist Anne Drummond) and “A Soul Thang,” a ballad dramatized by the addition of strings. The Ray Charles R&B hit “I Got a Woman,” with saxophonist Seamus Blake, also shines. Only the closing Beatles cover, “Eight Days a Week,” with Lee channeling his Fab Faux alter-ego on vocals, falls short.
Other drummers include Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Sting), who leads an air-tight shuffle cadence on “Chocolate Souffle” along with bassist John Patitucci (who contributes an inimitable solo) and keyboardist Brian Charette. On the title track, Colaiuta guides a 7/8-timed feel with Patitucci and Charette while Noy and pianist Kevin Hays add nuance. Jazz/fusion session master Dave Weckl drums on an acidic take of Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” (with Charette and bassist James Genus) and the Brian Wilson-penned ballad “God Only Knows,” with the same personnel plus strings.
And then there’s Noy, who alternately channels the likes of fusion godfather John Scofield, blues-rocker Stevie Ray Vaughan, and even the speech-pattern guitar phrasing of Zappa, someone who also knew how to play jazz that just didn’t sound like it.