Poogie Bell Band - Get On the Kit CD

Any band with Poogie Bell in it would have to call themselves Poogie Bell Band regardless of the depth of his contribution, because such a moniker only comes along once in a lifetime.
Fortunately, he's the funky drummer leading the proceedings on this 2006 release, which fuses modern urban jazz touches with good old 70's-style fusion compositions and blends them with a hint of improvisational gusto, adding hints of R&B, Hip-Hop, and Rock along the journey.

Inspired by bassist Kevin Barefoot, Poogie Bell poked his head out of the jazz world and into the realm of "jam" a few years ago, and he's found plenty of success. Get On the Kit features not only the smooth and steady Barefoot bass, but also the wildly inventive, Zappa-esque fusion guitar work of Juan Vasquez and the studied precision of Howie Alexander's keyboard playing. Horn players include masters like Ian Gordon (trumpet), Reggie Watkins (trombone), and Tony Campbell (alto sax). Guests include bassist extraordinaire Marcus Miller, whose 2003 Pittsburgh gig united Bell and Barefoot for the first time, lending bass along with production duties.

Tracks tend toward breezy funk and fusion for the first part of the disc, as heard in tunes like the metronomic funk opener "Hi There" and the dynamic "Dark and Happy." "Jamestown" showcases a brilliant brass section along with DJ scribbles that add more weight to the song's already formidable funk frontline. The electric fusion and jazz of the 70's and 80's are influential all over this disc, from the way "Adolescence" utilizes classically-minded horns with electric bass slaps and gunky clavinet groove, to the hand claps and swirly synths of "Pay Attention!" and the bangin' bass thump of "Creepin'" "Funky Helmet" exhibits a modern pace over swells of synthesizers creating a combination that leaves the listener breathless.

If there's one bad thing to say about this disc, it's the lack of liner note info - a large list of guests is present but there's no way to tell on which tracks they perform. A minor inconvenience. If you love the ultra-tight snap of a hi-hat and the spine-tingling tick-tock of drumming perfection driving a perfect funk sound, then you're going to want to check out Poogie Bell Band's Get On The Kit as quickly as possible.

--Bryan Rodgers