Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about the headline is the contradiction in terms with a band debuting with the title “Greatest Hits.” Yet, because these veterans of the Seattle music scene are forming Futurenot, keep in mind that the two principals have been collaborating for over a decade. So, to them, the title may not seem so tongue-in-cheek. They are both horn players and multi-instrumentalists, Jason Cressey (True Loves, Monophonics) and Peter Daniel (45th Street Brass band). These tunes represent the best of writing since they were front liners for the band Funky2Death. Joining them are Tim Kennedy (Big Tooth, keyboards), David McGraw (True Loves, drums), Cole Schuster (big bad thoughts, guitar), and Mark Hunter (The Dip, bass). Moe Betta handles the raps and spoken word and Skerik adds tenor on select tracks. This debut is on the Color Red label which boasts an extensive roster of such kindred spirits as The Greyhounds, Hot Mustard, Josh Hoyer, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, and the WRD Trio (which we covered on these pages last year).
The sound will appeal to fans of Dap-Tone bands such as The Budos Band and Menahan Street Band to name just a couple. It also bears similarities to crossover, genre-bending projects such as Robert Glasper’s Black Radio, R+R=Now and the late Roy Hargrove’s The RH Factor. It’s the confluence of soul, jazz, and hip-hop with danceable grooves galore. Following the horn blasting opener, “In The Beginning,” Seattle MC Moe Betta delivers the throwback disco/hip-hop single, “Let Us In,’’ one where it’s easy to envision glitzy and under-the-influence dancers getting down and dirty. The tune also features a piercing guitar lead from Schuster and bursts from Daniel on saxophone. The MC also graces “Supernova” and “Slide.” Mo Betta conjures great rhymes in “Supernova” and the punchy “Slide” as well. On the latter, three vocalists, including Kennedy, sing the backgrounds.
“Be the Change” is an uplifting tune that draws inspiration from the Adderley Brothers, a showcase for the vigorous horns of co-leaders and with an impossibly infectious hook that you’ll swear you must have heard somewhere before. The theme is one you could envision playing behind the credits at the end of a triumphant film. Acclaimed saxophonist Skerik guests on “Express Checkout,” a groove-driven piece where Skerik leads the horn attack which also has strong trombone parts from Cressey.
The tempo slows for “Lamb’s Bread” which is the kind of hybrid between brass band fare and fusion jazz, with bright electric keys from Kennedy. “Outta The Blue” is funky and glowing with glorious horns, giving it a cinematic quality too before yielding to a call and response sequence between guitarist Schuster and the two horns as the tune builds in intensity. True to their propensity for the tongue-in-cheek, they close with “This Is the End,” as the horns dart in around the keys and guitars as if a storm has just passed, only to have the music fizzle and fade gently.
Be careful during these chilly winter days. If you pop this one on while in the car, you’ll find yourself heavy with your foot and wondering why you may have rolled the window down. It’s impossible to sit still. These grooves will linger for days. It’s music that just refreshes and energizes.