Keith Marks
"Foreign Funk"

Foreign Funk

Review by Brad Walseth

If you are looking for a soundtrack for fun this summer, then Keith Marks' "Foreign Funk" may be just what you are after. From the opening when the band kicks into Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F" (the theme from the movie Beverly Hills Cop), you can't help but smile and nod your head. Mark's sparkling and sassy flute is backed by a talented group of musicians, including bassist Donald Nicks, drummer Wally "Gator" Watson, guitarist Lou Volpe and keyboardist Pete Levin. Those looking for intellectual introspection will have to go elsewhere to find shadows, as all is bright and sunny in Marks' world.

Marks supplies a couple of original numbers (the exuberant "Foreign Funk" and Carribean-styled "Patsy") to mix with a collection of covers that pull from popular music of the '60s and '70s. There is a take of Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze," the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and Lalo Schifrin's "Mission Impossible Theme." Joe Zawinul's "Mercy. Mercy, Mercy" is here and sounds fresh, with flute featured in place of Cannonball's alto sax. The somewhat saccharine Atlantic Starr hit weeper “Always” is redeemed and a funky new number, "Sho' Off," written by Bill Salter ("Just the Two of Us," "Mr. Magic") is a buoyant highlight.

Even on some of the lighter fare, Marks and his band thankfully take this material and stretch out on it, with their impressive musicianship and band interplay able to bring the material up a notch. Marks' flute forays are enjoyable and call to mind Herbie Mann at times, while his band mates all add flavorful solo work as well. A well-done pop/jazz confection, as bright and light as a sunbeam, "Foreign Funk" is the perfect music to put on for a barbecue with good friends out on the deck.

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Contact Brad Walseth and JazzChicago.net at bwalseth60@aol.com

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