Bassist Felix Pastorius looms as a significant soloist throughout this vibrant 2-CD live set by saxophonist and Grammy winner Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones) and The Mu’tet. Sure enough, the son of pioneering bassist Jaco Pastorius extends his father’s legacy. Indeed, it must be in the DNA. Nonetheless, this vibrant outing bridges the gap between affable compositions and serious musicianship. Designed with pumping grooves and legendary drummer Jeff Sipe’s polyrhythmic assaults, the program conveys a significant groove-quotient, featuring Coffin and trumpeter Bill Fanning’s Tower of Power like choruses amid the jazz element, funk and jazz fusion.
Sprinkled with zesty improvisational segments, the ensemble occasionally melds a freer element with a playful gait. Coffin’s soul-drenched and jazzy lines accelerate the overall dynamic, abetted by popping notes, fluid phrasings and spiraling breakouts. Engineered on extended pieces, the musicians abide by a democratic mindset, where ample soloing space and perky theme reconstructions sustain interest to complement a few off-kilter deviances along the way.
Coffin and keyboardist Kofi Burbridge’s flute work adds a rather flirtatious over-the-top vibe within pieces steeped in the blues and a succession of upbeat metrics evident throughout. In addition, the diverse track mix offers a potpourri of memorable themes, climactic opuses, and a buoyant outlook. Hence, the artists’ enact a synergistic manifesto.
Coffin tones it down some on the enticing ballad “Turiya,” engineered with linear progressions, capacious movements, and a melancholic underpinning. Otherwise, there’s quite a bit to whet the musical appetite via snappy hooks and a zesty New Orleans second-line motif on “Move Your Rug.”
The musicians triumphantly circumvent that sometimes opaque space, often leading to an unbalanced or overly cerebral technical jamboree, sans memorable compositions and a lack of congeniality. Here, probing themes-constructions, sterling musicianship and likeable works beckon repeated listens, equating to a value proposition that is often hard to come by.
CD-1: Tag; Al’s Greens; The Evil Boweevil; Turiya. CD-2: The Mad Hatter Rides Again; Move Your Rag; L’Esperance; Tall & Lanky.
Jeff Coffin: saxophones, electronics, flute; Jeff Sipe: drums; Felix Pastorius: electric bass; Kofi Burbridge: piano, keys, flute; Bill Fanning: trumpet, space trumpet; Mike Seal: guitar; Chris Walters: piano, keys; On “Tall Y Lanky,” Joe Caploe: percussion; Leonice Shinneman: kanjira; Rob Block: guitar.