Apr. 17, 2016

Where does one being writing about a group that simply plays all words through its funky instruments, using all manner of sophBWB 3rd CDisticated, seasoned skill, wit, and character? Well, here goes. BWB (Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, and Norman Brown) has clearly become one of the heavyweights in the business over the years, and they now have another release to offer. Factoid: Did you know that these guys have released only three albums (including this latest) over the past 14 years, and two were cover albums? Why? Well, having little available time and the menace of geography have been chief culprits. This new self-titled release finds the trio reunited and committed to recording an album of all original compositions. Did they ever! You can imagine the fire engines headed toward the studio as this was being recorded. That’s what happens when you outright own the groove. This newest effort is a complete kaleidoscope of funk and charm and spells out all the reason you need to believe that BWB is dangerously good.

Sauntering in with the lead track, “Triple Dare,” penned by all three, you get a sense of what’s to come. Well, maybe not because there’s so much by way of creativity here, nothing is predictable. What you can be sure of is the attraction of that Whalum Memphis sax sound, the seductive appeal of the Braun trumpet, and the fluidity of the Brown guitar as his nimble fingers again take so many guitarists to school.

So, you sit riveted as you listen intently (not really trying to resist the urge to dance, mind you). While listening, “Bust a Move” (also written by all three) jumps out at you, a smokin’ funky jam that calls you to the dance floor “if you think you’ve got somethin’ kinda hot” or “if you’re teenie tiny or if you’ve got a lot” — go ahead and Bust a Move. Now, do you get what you’re in for? An unbridled, delicious, grand groove.

A smooth reggae-feeling “BWB” washes over you next, reminding you a bit of Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster” and placing you in that oh-so-mellow-yet-alive state. That’s before you’re hit again with the funk of “Bolly Bop,” a Kirk Whalum-penned groove with a super-cool chorus and melody that’s simply irresistible and happy. What else would you expect from the saxman?

All in all, this BWB project not only calls you to check out its music but to be sure to catch this trio in concert as they promote this gem. That’s gotta be an experience you can replay in your head and heart over and over again. – Ronald Jackson