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Garaj Mahal: More Mr. Nice Guy

It has been a busy year thus far for Garaj Mahal. Having just released Discovery they have come out with another gem entitled More Mr. Nice Guy. For those of you unfamiliar with the band now is your chance to hear another stellar release featuring Fareed Haque (Moog guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo), Kai Eckhardt (bass, fretless bass), Eric Levy (Moog synthesizer, piano, keyboards, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, Hohner clavinet) and Sean Rickman aka the Rick (drums, rhythm guitar, lead and background vocals).

I cannot say enough about this group of musicians. While all are virtuosos on their chosen instruments they always seem to come up with great melodies while still showcasing their awesome talent. This album is very easy to listen to and even though the music can be quite complex it never sounds overbearing and pretentious. The band has its roots firmly planted in jazz but also digs into some blues, rock, space and a whole lot of groovy funk that makes More Mr. Nice Guy such a multifaceted release. There is so much going on here it really does take a number of listens to fully appreciate this disc. Levy and Haque create sonic layers of pure bliss with keyboards and Moog guitar in perfect balance. Sometimes it is hard distinguish keyboards from guitar as Haque is able to generate so many sounds out of his instrument. On a few tunes Levy also gives the Fender Rhodes a work out adding some delicious melodies along the way. Holding it all together is the rhythm section of Rickman and Eckhardt. Both musicians really hit their stride creating intricate drum fills and tantalizing bass lines including some nice work on the fretless.

There are many highlights including "Witch Doctor", the album opener where eastern melodies meet the pulsating rhythms of funk and "The Long Form", a trippy slice of psychedelic rock and jazzy funk. "Today" is an excellent melodic rock song with undertones of jazz and pop and the acoustically driven "Frankly Frankie Ford" features the cool twang of banjo. The ten minute long "Chester the Pester" allows the players to explore their surroundings giving rise to some dissonant guitar rumblings and sweet bass work. The short "Faster Than the Speed of Time" could have been a space freak's delight with its programmed electronics and spacey keys, but alas, it ends much too soon.

This is an absolutely mandatory purchase for all fans of jazz, although I think this will also have a strong appeal to fans of progressive music. Please do yourself a favour and pick up More Mr. Nice Guy. Highly recommended.

Track Listing:
1. Witch Doctor (5:36)
2. Faster Than the Speed of Time (:45)
3. Tachyonics (8:07)
4. The Long Form (10:41)
5. Today (5:22)
6. Frankly Frankie Ford (9:16)
7. What My Friends Say (5:16)
8. Chester the Pester (10:05)
9. Alison's Pony (8:58)

Added: April 23rd 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 2342
Language: english

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Garaj Mahal: More Mr. Nice Guy
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-04-22 19:04:36
My Score:

Here we have another winner from those masters of groovy jazz-funk-fusion, the ensemble known as Garaj Mahal. More Mr. Nice Guy will instantly appeal to anyone who has followed the career of this act, as it's another mostly instrumental affair filled with tasty melodies, ripping instrumental workouts, and plenty of slammin' rhythms.

Most of the members of Garaj Mahal are pretty reknowned on their instruments, either through the output of this band or their guest appearanes elsewhere; Fareed Haque (guitars), Kai Eckhardt (bass), Eric Levy (keyboards), and Sean 'The Rick' Rickman (drums). Tunes like the groove-laden "Witch Doctor", the jazzy "Tachyonics", or the barnstormin' fusion of "The Long Form" show just how much talent these guys have. Sure, they can certainly rip it up when they want to, but their sense of restraint is also quite commendable.

As they have started to dive into on past releases, there's a few vocal tracks here, like the funky "Today" and the R&B flavored " What My Friends Say", featuring vocals from The Rick (who is making his first appearance with the band here), and while these are actually fine songs (with some very strong vocals I might add) those wanting to hear mostly instrumentals from this band might be a tad put off by these tracks. For these ears, much like some of the best material from German funk-fusioners Kraan, these tracks sort of blend right in and show another aspect of Garaj Mahal's repertoire.

Other hot tracks include the Dixie Dregs influenced "Frankly Frankie Ford", the rumbling fusion monster "Chester the Pester", and the elegant closer "Alison's Pony", each one a great vehicle for some tasty soloing from Haque, Eckhardt, and Levy. Hard not to like this one folks, it's simply another rock solid release from Garaj Mahal.

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