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Review by Scott Yanow of Challenge Records: Steve Gadd and Friends - Live at Voce

Steve Gadd’s quartet with Joey DeFrancesco and baritonist Ronnie Cuber on Live At Voce (CR 73326) grooves hard and is quite fun.

Steve Gadd has been the drummer on a countless number of sessions throughout the past 45 years, but one would guess that the group on Love At Voce plays the type of music that he enjoys best. Gadd teams up with organist Joey DeFrancesco, baritonist Ronnie Cuber and guitarist Paul Bollenbeck to perform the type of swinging soul jazz that was heard in the past by George Benson in the 1960s (when Cuber was his baritonist) and the Jimmy McGriff band with Benson and saxophonist Red Holloway.

Gadd sounds happy to play a supportive and driving role between the three superb soloists. Cuber has long been one of the best on his instruments and this is the type of booting and jumping music that lets him stretch out. Bollenbeck is an excellent guitar soloist while DeFrancesco has been at the top of his field during the past 20 years.

Together these four masters jam on blues and such standards as “Undecided,” ”Back At The Chicken Shack” and “Sister Sadie.” An occasional ballad (including “Georgia On My Mind”) and DeFrancesco’s muted trumpet playing (a la Miles) on “Bye Bye Blackbird” offer brief change of paces on a grooving and soulful set that is overall very difficult to resist. Two brief selections from another session with r&b singer Edie Brickell are “bonus cuts.”

This is goodtime music at its best.

Scott Yanow

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