If you’re even remotely interested in Funk, Jazz or Soul-infused Fusion, then you need to get into the Philadelphia-based trio Hambone Relay. The band consists of co-founder Mark Brown (Hammond Organ, Keyboards), John Udinsky Jr (Guitar, Bass) and Rob Tait (Drums, Percussion).
Their self-titled album delivers grooves and syncopations strong enough to stand on their own, extremely tight playing, lisping cymbals and infectious organ and guitar riffs.
One of the first intrinsic qualities I notice about Hambone Relay is the genuine creative meaning they see within music. They take the tangible and intangible elements of their craft to reach a deeper level of understanding, making it clear they don’t see music merely as a commodity to be bought and sold. That almost exclusive 60’s/70’s ethic seems to be such a strong influence on everything this trio does musically.
“One-Eyed Jack’s” kicks off the 9 track album with an infectious melody, in the pocket grooves and lots of spontaneous musical combustion. And from there on out, the way out is up. This sounds like an album where all the elements the trio are experimenting with reaches its apex and comes together for one consistently engaging recording.
“Steam Shovel”, “The Line”, and “Cramp Your Style (Live)” all have their moments of brilliance, but what for me, makes this recording memorable, are the songs “Sick, Brah!” and “Spyhunted” with bags full of goodies helping to make this disc a near masterpiece.
These two tracks are down and out high stepping grooves with heavy, swaggering rhythms and a like-minded attitude in the soloing as well. These compositions are worth the album price alone.
Hambone Relay is not only continuing their musical quest with this album, they are also refining and expanding it even further. The trio have a really great sounding vibe with this new album, and an astoundingly large percentage of very good tunes – nine out of nine ain’t bad! The tracks are all tight and dynamic, with a much focused ‘live-feeling’.
Of course apart from the masterful Hammond soloing by Mark Brown and the snappy guitar interludes by John Udinsky Jr, it’s the never-loosing-the-grip grooves, ably supported by Rob Tait that balances the rich and complex sounding palette.
With extrapolation from these songs into the future we surely will be in for an extremely interesting up and forward ride – an ever deepening exploration of funky jazz fusion – the proof of a continuously expanding musical universe. Who says we only have computer-programmed music? There is hope in Hambone Relay! I’m in!
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