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Rodney Jones: Soul Manifesto Live!

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The album has a dual personality. “Light My Fire,” “Summertime” and “Morning of the Carnival” capture the melodic, harmonically advanced side of guitarist Jones. The remainder of the tunes are exercises in funk. While it may have been exciting to have been in the audience at Smoke in New York when this was recorded, the repeated one-chord funk action and heavy dance beats grow dull as this CD goes on.

Jones has assembled a fine band: tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery, organist and Rhodes pianist Will Boulware, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Kenwood Dennard. Rapper Paul Josephs (listed as providing “metrosonic concepts”) also appears on a couple of tracks. Everyone gives his all on the funk tracks-Avery with his robust, bravura, extended-range lines; Jones with his fast, superimposed rhythms and side-stepping, winding phrases; and Boulware, Plaxico and Dennard laying down the pounding pulse. Jones’ “Dissertation on the Blues,” a Wes Montgomery-sounding tune, is the jazziest of the groove tunes. “Let the Music Take Your Mind,” “Soul Makossa,” “Soul Manifesto (The Manifesto),” “Live Bait” and “Groovebone (The Sermon),” several of which appeared on Jones’ original Soul Manifesto CD on Blue Note two years ago, are all catchy, rhythmic performances. And if you’re dancing, maybe you don’t tire of the repetition.

The quieter, more atmospheric tunes (“Light My Fire,” et. al.) show a consummate guitarist in the George Benson mold (with a kinship to Pat Martino also). They provide a much-needed break from the other tunes and serve to balance out the album.