Chris M. Slawecki - AllAboutJazz.com 2005
Chris Bottomley | Partly Bent
He's from Toronto, but with titles such as “African Head Dub,” “Brazilian Thunder Throb,” “Belize City Bakin',” and the geographically ambiguous “World of Dreams,” this third release from producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer Chris Bottomley reflects an international musical vision.
“Belize City Bakin'” strolls you down a colorful reggae lane with easy-to-remember lyrics set to a catchy tune; you're serenaded in the bridge by trumpet and flute, then warmly toasted all over with a crisp horn chart. The set-ending “Belize City Bakin' in Dub” twists and fires up more heady, psychedelic stuff.
The cool instrumental “African Head Dub” opens with the thump of hand percussion and an insistent buzzing bassline that drives its rhythm and melody home. “Brazilian Thunder Throb,” its complement, adds horns and scat vocalese that joyously skirts the melody.
Bottomley plays almost everything—bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, djembe, jews' harp—and sings. When he teams with Jono Grant, who contributes guitar, piano and other keyboards and percussion, the two leave almost no instrument on the shelf. The pair co-produced “Trouble Makin' Freak” and “Hanging to the Riverbank,” tightly arranged large ensemble funk flowing full of sophistication and style, two of Bottomley's best.
Bottomley stretches further out on “Sample the Potion” and “Spider Woman.” The lead horn chart in ”Potion” is one of his best melodies, and the snare drum accents one beat early to move its rhythm continuously forward. “Spider Woman” also swaggers with a cool blue-tinged horn chart, saxophone cooing through the breaks, creepin' bassline, and wah-wah synthesizer funk, while the drum maintains its impeccable ride across the cymbal—the purposeful undulations of a murderously cool and attractive femme fatale.
Bottomley and Grant are joined by drummers Dean Stone, Davide Lorenzo, and Mike Goodridge, brass and wind players Rick Underhill, Jim Bish, and Bryden Baird, Andru Branch on Hammond B-3 organ, Ken Myhr on guitar, moog and mellotron, and guitarist Moose (Tomas). Though their musicianship is unquestionable, the stars of this set are Bottomley's jazzy pop songs.
~ Chris M. Slawecki - Senior Editor, AllAboutJazz.com. January 2005