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Funky Flavas by Reiff Jr

Verging on smooth jazz territory but with a take-no-prisoners attitude that elevates it above the usual fluffy and unobtrusive fare the genre typifies, Reiff Jr delivers Funky Flavas, an album of sultry grooves, contemporary rhythms and, in places, burn-down-the-house fusion/funk that showcase this Danish guitarist’s versatility.

Reiff Jr has, over the past twenty years, developed a solid reputation in his native Denmark as a band member, bandleader and session musician who has worked on everything from the Danish version of "The Tonight Show" to gigs with artists as diverse as Robert Palmer, Michael Brecker and Toots Thielemans. He favours a funky, slightly dirty sound that well suits the breadth of material on Funky Flavas.

Certain tracks, including "Move on Closer," "Thoughts" and "If Anyone Wants to Know" fit squarely into the contemporary smooth vein, although Reiff Jr’s searing guitar solos often take them to unexpected places. Other tracks are more surprising; "Children’s Song" starts lightly enough, with a Steely Dan-like groove reminiscent of "Your Gold Teeth"; here Reiff Jr shows his considerable chops with a more aggressive approach and growling sound that brings to mind the best work of Larry Carlton, demonstrating a fine ability to build a solo from nothing to an intense climax.

Speaking of climaxes, there is the uptempo fusion burner, "Keep Your Cool," which has at least some of its roots in John Scofield’s fusion work of the mid-1980s; Reiff Jr shows the same sense of musical intuition, while remaining a little more harmonically inside.

"Swedish Spring" is a light and breezy funk number that features Reiff Jr trading solos with guest guitarist Mike Stern. Reiff Jr pulls off some fine octave playing a la George Benson circa Breezin’. The deep funk groove of "Play Da Funk" has its roots in early 1990s Brecker Brothers; drummer Anders Pedersen and bassist Jannik Jensen keep things down and dirty, while Reiff Jr solos with abandon.

Reiff Jr’s years of experience in the studio pay off; the album has a lush, full-bodied sound to it; even with the number of instrumental tracks it never sounds cluttered; every track is well-placed and adds to the overall texture.

Funky Flavas is an album that will have some cross-over appeal; light enough to appeal to fans of smooth jazz but substantive enough to appeal to fans of deeper funk and fusion, the one thing that will clearly appeal to all audiences is Reiff Jr’s emotionally deep guitar playing; he makes every note count on this recording and, in the final analysis, that’s what it’s all about.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Reiff Jr
  • CD Title: Funky Flavas
  • Genre: Smooth Jazz
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: DaRoof Records
  • Tracks: Move On Closer; If Anybody Wants To Know; Childrens Song; Relaxin'; Keep Your Cool; Italian Thoughts; Thoughts; Russian Thoughts; Swedish Spring; Forrest; She's Dope; You; Play da Funk; Growing Love'
  • Musicians: Reiff Jr (guitars, organ, rhodes, keyboards, synth bass, beat box, percussion, vocal), Stig Kaufmanas (rhodes, keyboards, strings), Jannik Jensen (bass), Anders Pedersen (drums), Flemming Nilsson (percussion, congas, berimbau, ocean, guiro, tambourine, effects), Kasper Langkjaer (drums)with vocalists: Nabiha Bensouda, Michael Ruff, The DaRoof Ho’s, Signorina Forti, Mademoiselle Laforce, Devushka Rasmussen, Fraulein Reingaard, Froken Werner, Senorita Marleen, Rikke Molgaard
  • Rating: Four Stars
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