Magna Carta, a once-thriving U.S. label known for releasing stunning progressive metal albums by the likes of Shadow Gallery, Ice Age and Cairo, has been overshadowed in recent years by North American counterpart InsideOut Music. But — an ill-conceived covers collection by David Lee Roth notwithstanding — Magna Carta seems to be getting itself back on track. The label issued new titles by stalwarts Niacin and Tempest earlier this year, and a handful of intriguing releases are slated for later this year. Magna Carta also created a groovy offshoot label, Magnatude Records, specializing in jam and funk bands. The imprint's first release is an all-instrumental tribute to the music of George Clinton and the seminal funk outfit Parliament/Funkadelic, performed by the cleverly named collective known as The Clinton Administration.
Musicians young and old include drummer Clyde Stubblefield, who played with James Brown, and guitarist Phil Upchurch, who worked with George Benson and Muddy Waters. Robert Walter (from Magna Carta artist 20th Congress) plays keyboards, Melvin Gibbs (The Rollins Band) is on bass, Skerik (Les Claypool's Frog Brigade) blows the sax, Chuck Prada (The Black Eyed Peas) handles percussion and DJ Logic (Living Colour) works the turntable. This is a progressive album in the true sense of the word — as these players, more recognized on the hip-hop and jazz scenes than the prog scene, "dis-arrange" some of Clinton's best tracks. But One Nation Under A Re-Groove is not likely to appeal to hardcore progheads.
Open-minded listeners, however, will find much here to broaden their palette, as new-school jam and groove meet old-school blues and funk. Kick it!