This is Resolution 88's second album following the 2014 release of the self-titled album, Resolution 88. The album launch took place at Northcote Records in Clapham, London on 11th September 2016. I was fortunate to meet the band members for pre-gig dinner and introduced to one of the label owners, Julian Fontenell.
There has been a change in the band line-up from the first release with the addition of Alex Hitchcock, who is knee-deep in the London live music scene with a variety of projects.
Tom O'Grady leads this collective of artisans and has played on stage with the likes of Don Blackman, Underground Resistance, Eumir Deodato and Clare Fischer. He is currently deputising on keys for Incognito on their world tour. Drummer Ric Elsworth brings his own flavour to this collective having attended Cheathams School in Manchester and then studied at the Royal College of Music. He has performed with artists including Jimmy Page, Donovan, Belle and Sebastian and Foals. Finally, there is the enigma that is Tiago Coimbra who studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music and Berklee College, Boston. Tiago has performed all over the world; highlights include the Manila Jazz festival and performing with Arthur Maia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Overall, this is a good album and the members have taken their artisan skills to the next level as a collective. It certainly would not be Jazz Funk without the Fender Rhodes and slick bass.
Taking Off is a great tune although there are parts where I find myself humming and table tapping an improve waiting for instruments to fill the vacuum. Alex plays a smooth alto sax whilst Tom noodles away on the Rhodes bringing this tune to a nondescript ending.
I chuckled reading the press pack learning that Tuggin' The Pug was apparently inspired by Tom watching his neighbor taking a pug dog for a walk. A great groove but I am not so sure of the pug inspiration! Ric is also an accomplished percussionist and plays a short eight bar conga solo on the track. The live version has no percussion and Ric holds his own with the four-to-the-floor kick-drum. Definitely a funky vibe about this tune.
If you are in the mood for a bit of light footwork and a little shuffle, then Three Four Or More is your kind of jam with flowing syncopated drums and the refreshed modulation of the Fender Rhodes. The electric bassline funnels this composition before it breaks down into a serious Herbie Hancock standard vibe. Respect to Mr Hancock. Tiago's electric bass is dazzling and Tom substitutes lead guitar with the Fender Rhodes. The breakdown at 1:45 should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up as the burst of the chimes resonates through your headphones or speakers. This tune will no-doubt be played at London's famous jazz dance event Shiftless Shuffle in the imminent future.
Changing Times Pt. 1 is a downbeat hip-hop inspired tune; some may say D'Angelo but I'm not so sure; possibly more deep funk with some Haitus Kaiyote. An original composition that provokes a lot of stimulating thoughts. Changing Times Pt.2 follows on and is piloted by Alex on alto sax. I have visions of this track being played in a smoke-filled bar whilst Humphrey Bogart tilts his trilby and traipses off to the exit.
Ric exercises the rider cymbals to the tune's advantage in Banana Skin Central which is a low key jazz funk shuffle; I was charmed by the undertone of the high-hat, conga drums and electric bass. This composition is very well balanced in terms of layered sounds concluding with the alto sax fading outro.
If you have the opportunity to see Resolution 88 live; No wait.... you must see Resolution 88 live, Homing In is amazing to watch and the album version does not do it justice. Ric makes the drumming look and sound easy along with Tiago's brilliant electric bass hook. Alex provides a gnarly alto sax melody, which again is not complicated and a foot-tapper of a tune. You may want to throw some shapes, space permitting.
Raios Do Sol is a fitting tribute to the samba sounds of Brazil with homage to the likes of Azymuth and Banda Black Rio. There are some fundamental elements of broken Latin in this track, which also reminds me of George Duke. The stamp of approval in terms of Latin vibe is the cuica (talking-drum) which always bring a smile to my face.
Moonflower is a deep synth interlude. If it was longer I would meditate. Not the strongest tune on the album, however, they cannot all cross the finish line together. Perhaps future albums may contain ‘skits’ in addition to interludes. Who knows?
If you was to open the Jazz dictionary or the Jazz thesaurus and look up 'Jazz Funk', the definition would read 'see Phantom of the Oberheim'. It may not have been Tom's intention when writing this tune however, it has a strong I G Culture broken-beat signature for most part. This tune's groove postures beneath the Fender Rhodes and is probably my favorite from this album; on par with Three Or Four More.
Afterglow Pt.1 & Pt.2 approaches the end of the album with offerings to Herbie Hancock (I see a theme here) and his song Vein Melter. This tune percolates through the alto sax that makes this song different; all before the drums, Fender Rhodes and bass assimilates into a Weather Report reggae beat finale.
Resolution 88 should be proud that they keep the Jazz Funk scene alive in the UK.
Tom O’Grady: Keyboards
Ric Elsworth: Drums and Percussion
Alex Hitchcock: Tenor and Alto Saxophones, Bass Clarinet.
Tiago Coimbra: Electric Bass.
Review: Fernando Rose