"Ready to Roll" opens with the title track, a 57-second funk chorus that sounds like something that would make George Clinton grin that grin. A sweet little groove, it sets up what is to follow.
What follows is "Glimpse," another funk-laden groove piece that brings tenor sax hot hand Alex Milsted alongside "Neutron" Newton to create an excitingly cool work that is fondly reminiscent of Spyro Gyra's most fun grooves. The popping bass substrata to the horns is bright and energetic.
Ashley Jayy contributes her sweet soul vocals to "Make Me Yours." Kyle Molitor adds a rich trombone to the mix and Newton's equally rich tonality weave together with Jayy's vocals for a truly memorable track. The layered vocals are warm and thrilling, at once. However, as always, it is Newton's pop and plush that truly creates the emotion and the mood.
Farnell Newton has never disappointed in any of his previous recordings and he does not begin here on "Ready to Roll." The maturing tone has developed beautifully in pace with his virtuoso technique. Seeing him live or hearing him on recordings always serve to impress and to educate. The generosity an warmth of the man himself have continued to grow in equal or greater measure to his talent.
"You Gotta Move" features Donyea Goodman's vocals in this spiritual piece by the Reverend Gary Davis. "When the Lord gets ready, you gotta move," Goodman intones. With Newton's now lush, now raw treatment and the arousing of the soul that follows, one is left to wonder if Gabriel has lost his first-chair status to Farnell Newton.
An interpolation of Chuck Mangione appears in "Sweet Sauce." The quick and skilled guitarist Chance Hayden makes his only appearance on this track with Tony Ozier on bass and the splendid Tyrone Hendricks on drums. This is a group that has played often together in Portland's vivid music scene. The over-dubbing of a muted Newton over Newton adds to the texture and fun.
A few ago, I caught the trio of Farnell Newton, Tyrone Hendricks and vocalist/keyboardist Jarrod Lawson live in Portland. It was a clinic on rhtyhm, soul, Jazz improvisation and camaraderie. That same spirit pervades everything Farnell Newton touches. "Sweet Sauce" is a fine example of that.
The great Bomberg and Hammerstein composition "Softly" is given a lovely regard with Steve Rogers' acoustic guitar which provides a sensual introduction to Shannon Soderland's vocals. Jon Shaw--another young tiger--is masterful on the bass. Newtron's muted trumpet allows a nocturnal feel on the track that is well-suited and rewarding. At 3:39, it is too short.
"Peace + Love" includes vocals and keyboards by the above-mentioned Jarrod Lawson.Tony Ozier joins in by handling the bass, drums and additional vocals himself. Lawson appeared on Newton's second album--"Class is Now in Session"--on that great track "Everything is Clear." Again Newton's horns encompass the piece, circumnavigating the soulful vocals and adding a Jazzy depth.
One of the coolest grooves on the album is found on "Dunk Funk." Kyle Molitor makes his second of three appearances on trombone and together the horns create a sound as thrilling and vivid as anything from the heady days of the L.A. Express or Bill Chase. Will Birckhead's guitar and bass work are brilliant.
It was difficult to leave this track. I don't know how many times I hit replay.
"Stankie's Revenge Part Doo" is a title that belongs right up there with Charles Mingus' "The Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife is Some Jive-Assed Slippers." Molitor and Birckhead return for this, their final, track and they make it count. Birckhead provides a menacing backdrop to the shrieking horns. This is power and passion. What a great track.
"Congo Square" brings to bear one of my very favorite drummers found anywhere...or everywhere. Reinhardt Melz can handle any rhythm and his Afro-Cuban groundwork for Newton's trumpet is a thing of beauty. Newton's blistering attack is perfectly matched by Reinhardt Melz' percussion.
Surprisingly, the album concludes on a softer tone. "Human Race" features vocals by Cleveland P. Jones. The percussion of Ahmed Sirour is well-suited for Jones' vocals. Together, they lay a plush carpet for Newton's soulfulness. "Make this world a better place" is the them of the track but it is also the ongoing philosophy of Farnell Newton himself.
Throughn his own albums and the albums on which he contributes, Farnell Newton contributes a class and a charatcer that comes from his own depths. He can attack and assuage and both come from the same profound sense of humanity found within the man himself.
Visit Farnell's website at: http://farnellnewton.com/
Like him on Face book at: https://www.facebook.com/farnellnewton?fref=ts
Order "Ready to Roll" here: https://farnellnewton.bandcamp.com/album/ready-to-roll
Download the MP3 from Amazon by clicking the link below: