Funkasaurus Rex CD "Etched in Stone" reviewed on AllAboutJazz
(Published: February 23, 2010)
Etched in Stone
Joey Berkley wears many different musical hats: Tenor saxophonist (with"no end of idiomatic facility," enthuses The Toronto Globe & Mail); leader of the Four Good Reeds saxophone quartet; leader of the straight-ahead, acoustic Joey Berkley Quartet; and, for the past five years, leader of the horn-stoked soul-funk nonet Funkasaurus Rex, whose collective credits include Miles Davis, James Brown, and the Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and Duke Ellington orchestras.
On Etched in Stone (which was on the 2009 Grammy ® nomination entry list in FIVE different categories), Funkasaurus Rex stomp and rip through several varieties of classic '70s soul in tunes originally written and performed by soulful rock'n'rollers (John Fogerty's "Proud Mary"), soulful jazz players (Les McCann's "Samia"), and soul chart-toppers such as Earth Wind & Fire and The Spinners.
John Tropea nails each tune down with guitar hooks so tight and mighty-even though they can sometimes sound lost in the swell of multiple horns-that they provide the pivot point from which these songs swing. Tropea and drummer Chris Parker whipcrack "But It's Alright" (by J.J. Jackson, who worked as an arranger for Jack McDuff and Jimmy Witherspoon while laboring to launch his own singing career), and you just can't lay a melody down more sweetly in the pocket than Tropea in "Can't Hide Love," which smartly showcases the guitarist's bop licks as the first solo, and Chris Coogan's electric tribute to pianist Ramsey Lewis (one of Maurice White's most trusted collaborators) as the second.
But, my, how these horns blow! Berkley's tenor sweetly reaches out for the spirit of Eddie Harris to counterpoint his arrangement of McCann's "Samia." "P.M.S." ("Proud Mary Suite"') opens in a slow big-band movement, then crashes through several wild moods (including a piano that plays "I Got Rhythm" then proceeds to tear that rhythm down) until you can barely see Fogerty's original left in the distance behind you.
It all closes in a celebration of Berkley's "Mighty Love" for soul music that honors not only the sound of The Spinners but The Sound of Philadelphia, too. Etched in Stone carves out a magical intersection of soul, jazz, blues, and funk styles, and is one of those party-time blowing sessions that seems to rock your house just a little bit harder on a Saturday night.
Etched in Stone musicians: Joey Berkley: tenor saxophone; Bill Harris: alto saxophone, flute; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Brian Pareschi: trumpet; Jens Wendelboe: trombone; Chris Coogan: piano, keyboards; John Tropea: guitar; Seth Glassman: bass; Chris Parker: drums, percussion.
Etched in Stone song titles: But It's Alright; Can't Hide Love; Tachedogbe; PMS; Samia; If I Ever Lose This Heaven; Six Beauties on a Rooftop; Mighty Love.
More Information: http://www.joeyberkley.com