Sept. 21, 2016
And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the one who placed Funk Ave. on the map of France comes another blazer by that household funkateer guitarist/producer U-Nam. What can one say about this cat? He obviously eats, drinks, and sleeps jazz/funk in ways many can only imagine. Stepping out all ablaze with fire and color on his latest called Surface Level, the guitar maestro does what has now become customary for him – turn the genre inside out and on its ear with the brightest, tightest, classiest, and funkiest of melodies, guitar riffs and hooks. His stratospheric and innovative grasp of what makes a hit a hit is virtually uncanny. Perhaps we should have him wear a cape and deem him to be some kind of jazz superhero. How about it, U-Nam? Up for that?
This album is equipped with every manner of groove and hot funk imaginable. Needless to say, the guitar does its own singing and dancing. You need only follow along, as you undoubtedly will with happy feet as you take in such smokers as the lead track “Going For Miles,” “Groove Paradise,” “Back In Style,” a slick cover of Mary J. Blige’s “Mary Jane (All Night Long),” “Spice of Life,” and the title track…and that’s just for starters.
There’s a track here that, upon seeing its title, may just mislead you into thinking that it’s a cover of the old soundtrack “The Sound of Music.” Do not, repeat, do not make that mistake. This is “The Sound of Music” U-Nam style. Need I say more?
As if this album needed anything more to make it super-attractive, U-Nam pays a wonderful and honorable tribute to one of the true pioneers of acid jazz, the late great Ronnie Jordan with “Cool Blue.” Yes, so very cool, and it definitely captures the personality of the late guitarist.
As I started off by asking: What can one say about this cat? This superhero of jazz/funk. It can only be said that he has to know that we jazzers have been grateful for his entrance into our world some 10 years or so ago. Play on, U-Nam, play on. – Ronald Jackson
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