Cellar Funk,
Down to the Bone
(Narada, 2004)

Although this CD is on the Narada Jazz label, the leader of Cellar Funk does not play any musical instruments. Instead, Stuart Wade brings together musicians from the United Kingdom and mixes their sounds to form his dance-oriented pieces.

The beat, with the bass and drums upfront in the mix, is the defining element here. Although the previous CD From Manhattan to Staten scored highly on smooth jazz charts, Cellar Funk seems to be more a dance project with jazz elements. This entire CD has the "chunkiness" of sampling, with its related repetition.

The four funk cuts, two of which begin the CD, are the weakest, lacking originality and having the feel of the '70s revisited.

Wade gets into more varied and interesting beats in the middle of the CD. Many tracks have the feel of Latin jazz, with different percussion instruments weaving in and out and the occasional use of horn sections.

The best cuts are those with vocals: "The Flow," which does have more flow as Wade lets the musicians have a bit more space to solo, and "Dancing to a Samba," where the scat singing adds a Brazilian flavor.

If you are a fan of dance music, this might be your type of CD. If you are a jazz purist opposed to sampling, don't touch this one.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 25 April 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.