The funk/groove sound:
It's done exceptionally well on Groove Station, where trumpeter Jim Cifelli tries on a groove suit for his latest release. And it proves itself a sleek fit for him.
The focus is also on a tight group sound and a crisp dynamic. The solos stay short and tasty and always in the pocket. Cifelli's smooth shift of gears from a mainstream sound to groove/funk may come as a surprise to fans of his Nonet discs. The title tune opens the set with a cooking power trio groove, a whisper of organ before the horns blow in, the group sounding like it could be backing Wilson Pickett or Sam and Dave. "Chaotica" has a more modern feel, with Cifelli using the mute alongside guest Joel Frahm on soprano sax, with a sound that would fit right in with a Miles Davis/Marcus Miller arrangement. "Long Time Comin'" wails in on a bluesy, Albert King-ish guitar by Dave Phelps, followed by more of Cifelli's mute work; and "Sertao" slips some smooth Brazilian flavor into the mix.
Enough said about a sound you shouldn't have to say much about... Cifelli and company get into the groove with the best of them.
After delivering three cds of intelligent, swinging, brilliantly arranged "little big band" music by his New York Nonet -- 1998's Bullet Trane, 1999's So You Say and 2002's Tunnel Vision -- trumpeter-composer Jim Cifelli takes a radical detour off the path and dives knee-deep into the funk on his fourth outing as a leader, the aptly-named Groove Station. Don't look for any Slide Hampton-Thad Jones-Oliver Nelson influences here. Instead, think James Brown, Tower of Power, the Brecker Brothers, Herbie Hancock (circa Headhunters) and Stevie Wonder on this one.
But while much of this recording is strictly in the pocket and on the one, Cifelli is still able to assert his jazzier tendencies within the funky fabric, as he does so adeptly with his bold, angular trumpet lines throughout or in other telltale ways, like the hip reference to Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" on his funky "Chaotica" or the hint of Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me A Bedtime Story" on the album's lone ballad, "Time Out." Says Cifelli, "As much as I'm a total Clifford Brown guy, I also really like Eddie Harris and Stevie Wonder and the Brecker Brothers." And while they couldn't be more different in many ways, they all come together organically and in seamless fashion on this savvy offering.
Bill Milkowski (liner notes)