The Maxwell Project,
(X-Bat, 2005)

Jamophonic is feel-good dance music: horn-driven, old-school R&B. I immediately thought the Maxwell Project sounded like Earth, Wind & Fire, with their bright sound and melodies.

The Maxwell Project is a reformation of Maxwell, a group that disbanded over 20 years ago after a few regional hits in central Pennsylvania. Jamophonic was originally supposed to be a remake of their unreleased 1981 album, but the master tapes were lost, so this is mostly new material. Two of the original group's 1979 releases, "Radiation Funk" and "Meltdown," are the last track of Jamophonic.

These 12 tracks are ear candy, but great ear candy. Many of the lyrics are forgettable, but this is dance music. What you get in this excellently produced recording is a tight band, solid arrangements and danceable songs with a solid but swinging beat. The horns know how to rock, coming on strong to introduce the songs, and then dropping back to underline the singers.

There are four lead singers, all excellent. Kathy Matthews has a flair for phrasing that adds a jazzy touch to "Urban Madness," and even on the less serious "Body Talk," she makes you feel like hers has a lot to say. The other male singers add touches of grooving soul and a solid pop feel.

There were many bands with horn sections around during the time of the original Maxwell, such as Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tower of Power and so on. Now there are not as many, so it is especially good to hear one that combines the optimism and spirit of those days with seasoned precision.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Dave Howell

28 July 2007

what's new