Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Moe Koffman - Jungle Man

Jungle Man

Idono (About De Jungle)

Jungle Man

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from GRT 9230-1066

Thanks to the plethora of Moe posts on Soundological, there's no need to cover his history here. In fact, most of the line-up has received personal attention on these pages in the multiple Koffman and/or Dr. Music posts over the last year and you need only click on the "can con" label for a full reading list. One dude involved in this set who hasn't had much mention here is long-time session guitarist Bob Mann, who has appeared on some of my favourite records (Johnny "Hammond" Smith's Wild Horses/Rock Steady, Hal Galper's Wild Bird and Chico Hamilton's El Exigente to name a few). Being a go-to guy for NYC session work in the early 70s and doing the same in the Toronto scene after the mid-70s, his extensive credits also place part of the blame on him for perpetrating some of the worst pop pap in recent history (Barry Manilow, Cher and Tony Orlando & Dawn anyone?). However, putting aside how he chose to earn his daily bread, his talent is not in question and most of the funky touches to be found on this LP are derived from his playing.

Speaking of which, there are a couple factors holding this album back from being truly funky in the final analysis. The first is Koffman's well-known inclination to be an early-adopter (or even follower) of musical trends and at this point in time, fusion-oriented funky jazz was beginning its metamorphosis (or is that slide?) into the super-sanitized sound that would be known as "smooth" jazz. Production-wise the album is ahead-of-the-curve in that aspect, for the most part sounding like a late 70s or early 80s outing from any major jazzbo on a major label: slick studio sheen, gated compression galore, vague world music influences, overdone overdubs and dodgy synth presets.

Another shortcoming is the compositions themselves. Most are decidedly radio-friendly MOR and although there is much in the way of technical brilliance on the album, the grittiness inherent in funk has been bleached out by safe choices and washed away with assembly-line soloing. It's almost as if everyone involved on both sides of the glass forgot they weren't working on a TV show or an advert and came to the session with that requisite clinical detachment so crucial to recording purely commercial music. For all intents and purposes, this one could have been called Jingle Man.

That's not to say the album is bad...if you like the smoother side of the genre then you'll probably find it a superb addition to your playlist. However, if you prefer an edge to your jazz then you'll likely have a hard time warming up to this marshmellow of a record. For the crate digging sample heads, there are a few treats you may find tasty but not much in the way of open breaks to be found on this short but saccharine set. Often fetching $10 or less, it's worth picking up at that price point if only for the dope Gahan Wilson cover art and the catchy title track.

Moe Koffman - Flute, Alto Flute, Piccolo, Soprano, Alto, Bari & Tenor Sax
Doug Riley - Keyboards
Tom Szczesniak - Bass
Bob McLaren - Drums
Brian Leonard - Percussion
Doug Mallory - Guitar
Bob Mann - Guitar
Steve Kennedy - Vocal (9)
Ken Marco - Vocal (9)

1 Jungle Man
2 Monkey Strut
3 Tribal War Dance
4 Spider Lily
5 Jungle Woman
6 Tiger Claw
7 Temple Flower
8 Idono (About De Jungle)
9 It's All Right (In De Jungle)

Get lost in the jungle with Soundological HERE or HERE.


el goog said...

Yeah I like this cover-art, it's funny, thank you Cheeba.

E-mile said...

dear Cheeba, I go for the whole jungle family :-)
Bet some of it is gonna end up in some thematical-terror post over at my little spot! Thanks again...
BTW: the Dr. Music stuff, well, I really tried, but nope.. I hit the button (most used???) on my keyboard for all 3 :-)
thanks (again) for your uplifting reads and all yer musical journeys!
peace, E-mile

cheeba said...

E-mile, that's what I LOVE about you! You give everything a try and offer your HONEST appraisals. I knew the Dr. Musics might not be everyone's cup of tea but felt the story needed to be told. I know you'll find some kind of use for the Moe material too!

BTW, if anyone is reading these comments and is not familiar with E-mile's master mixes of musical madness, you need to do yourself a flavour and head over to his blog now!

cheeba said...

eG, hard not to like, huh? Gahan Wilson was a big illustrator when I was coming up in the 70s so was glad to finally score a decent copy of this cover art!