Review by Brad Walseth
Oh so funky, so very funky - this gem of an album from a young group of NYC musicians starts off with the very inaccurately named "Featherweight" - Matthew Tredwell's drums pounding out a heavy beat, while Thomas Shaw's Herbie Hancock-influenced keyboards jitter into reverb crazily. Bassist Justin Kimmel and Guitarist Mark Hanna play off one another and then David Caputo's glorious alto saxophone screaming launches the band into orbit. Reminiscent of funk jazz bands of the 70's like the L.A. Express, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters and The Crusaders - Second Movement works the groove to fill the dancefloor with bopping bodies, but also spins into left of center tangents that will blow the mind.
"Batween tha Sheets" follows and continues the trend of utilizing the funky guitar riffs against funky keyboard comps - into unison sax/keyboard line format that was in such prevelant usage with Tom Scott and the Brecker Brothers back in the day. Not content with merely employing the 70's techniques, however, these talented young players bring their own nuances to bear, resulting in a sound that is both fresh as well as respectful. "Moonlight Weightbelt" calls to mind Tower of Power's "What is Hip?" (not a bad influence at all) with it's driving bass line. It is hard not to move while listening to such hot, rhythmical music, and although the music was recorded in two days - giving it a loose jam-like energy - the interplay is extremely tight. For just one example check out the band's sudden change into the groovy outro on the aforementioned "Moonlight Weightbelt."
"The Hup" adds a delightful West African element that -while taking the band in a different direction - fits nicely with the proceedings; while "Spellbound" revists that sweet melodic 70's pop/jazz sound with good results. Throughout all the playing is tasty by all parties involved, especially saxman Caputo, and keyboardist Shaw - whose chords serve to frame the presentation. "Anything but Reason" is another snaky funk number (with a fun bass solo by Kimmel) reminding one of The Crusaders in their heyday; while "Ev'ry Man a King" surprisingly takes the funk on down to the square dance and nearly burns the barn down in the process.
Album closer "Mid-February Stress Test" (an apt title for our purposes) is a showpiece, wherein the band shifts gears so many times you can almost lose count, yet keeps the groove going ferociously. All the players shine, but guitarist Hanna, Caputo and Shaw again blaze over a tight- as-all-hell rhythm section. When they shift into their intense closing groove - it is a breath-taking, almost heart-stopping experience.
There have been personnel changes since the release of this album, but if the live mp3s from their website are any indication - Second Movement continues in their path of filling the dancefloor with an inviting combination of funk and jazz. And with an upcoming appearance at the 2007 SxSW Festival, and a new CD in the works, this a band to reckon with.