(Royal Family Records)
Funky jazz, soulful jazz, jazzy funk or light fusion…
whatever the moniker, various combinations dot the menu for guitarist Krasno’s first
self-titled outing. The party includes Soulive partner Neal Evans on the
Hammond B3, along with collaborators from the NY-based, Krasno-centric, Royal
Family posse. Some of those players — Louis Cato/bass, Nigel Hall/keyboards
and vocals, and Adam Deitch/drums — are touring with Krasno as Chapter 2.
Krasno calls “a nod to those greats that came before me,” ably plays the field,
mashing genres without quite breaking through to anything history-making. But
there’s a feeling that the latter could transpire, down the road.
“Roll Out” bounces in with funky jazz, punctuated by
Krasno’s razor-precise guitar. His proficiency never falters. He gives Carlos
Santana a run for his money on “Enhorabuena. and throws some chunky funk at “Manic
Depression” without resorting to much outright Hendrix emulation (smart move).
The finger-snappin’, tight set rarely goes off track – when
it does, the unifying factor seems to be a lack of rock ‘n’ roll instinct. A “Get
Back” cover comes across as too facile, at worst like a goofy ‘60/early‘70s
send-up, the kind where Austin Powers bursts into a bunch of wildly frugging,
bell-bottomed bodies: “Yee-ah, Bay-bay!” And while a run at “Manic Depression”
probably seemed a good idea, and it initially comes on like a monster, Nigel
Hall’s vocals end up sinking the already unwieldy beast, which Hendrix kept
alive with a brisker attack. (Note to Krasno: If you’re going to make it heavy,
find one that’s already at least slightly obese, then go all the way, as Spooky
Tooth did with its acid-soaked “I Am The Walrus.”)
But the minimal, soulful funk of “Song For Dilla”
delightfully supports Jello-bright guitar spurts. On the nicely welded, funky
soul of original “Be Alright,” Hall’s vocals shine. “Enhorabuena” shimmers with
Latin flavor. The band settles into the sort of tasty fusion that could
accompany Sunday brunch on the waterfront with “Up and Out.” The closer and
title cut is guitar-licious.
Alright,” “Reminisce (End of the Movie),” “Up and Out,” “Song for Dilla” MARY