Pieces Of a Dream – Just Funkin’ Around

May 20, 2017

Yep, that perennial jazz/funk outfit that’s been a fixture in our smooth/contemporary jazz lives for decades, Pieces of a Dream, is at it again, and you can expect that this latest release, Just Funkin’ Around, will rock the foundation of the jazz/funk world once again. I think I have the answer to how they are able to do it time and again: It’s simply second nature. It’s who they are and what they do – compose hits and keep this genre alive and kickin’ with funk, power, presence, and relevance. Sounds too simplified? That’s because it is. You can’t explain this level of acquired competence and depth with a bunch of complex analogies and metaphors. These guys are just good – damn good. Always have been and, most likely, always will be. I would say that there must be something in that Philly water, but that doesn’t work because even other native Philadelphians will have to acknowledge that these guys are a long-running musical phenomenon unlike any they’ve ever seen. When you have the legendary Count Basie state that your band is “a tough act to follow,” there’s simply nothing more that needs to be said…but I will because this album deserves just a bit of elaboration for those who, through some odd twist of fate, have just come to know these guys.

Whether you’re looking for smooth finesse or unbridled funk, these guys have you covered. Their musical brand has been heralded by so many of their peers – both veteran and up-and-coming artists.

Tracks of note here just have to include the funky and slick lead track “Right Back Atcha,” more funk on the title track, the cool, hook-rich track, “Shaken, Not Stirred” that brings new meaning to that trademark James Bond martini preference, the energized dancer “Fast Lane,” and just tons more musical bliss here.

The band’s membership has seen a few come and go, but the core of the group, keyboard whiz/composer/producer James Lloyd and his lifelong musical partner drummer/composer/producer Curtis Harmon, has held strong and recruited well. Bassist David Dyson has been a fixture with the band since the early 2000s and brings real definition to the word “bass.” The addition of saxman Tony Watson Jr. years ago was also one of the smartest moves they could have made as well.

This album, like the gazillion albums they’ve produced over oh-so-many-years, continues to push forward the imagination and character of the band. Fans of Pieces need no convincing, and newcomers will only need to listen to this offering once to know what they’ve missed over the years. Get some of this, and you can thank me later. – Ronald Jackson