With one foot in jazz and the other leg waist deep in the funky stuff, drummer/producer Adam Deitch (Lettuce/Break Science) finally unveils Egyptian Secrets (Golden Wolf Records), the long-awaited full-length debut LP from his Adam Deitch Quartet. A soul-jazz love affair swaggerin’ down the avenue, this sampledelic session explores the rare-groove DNA at the core of golden-era hip-hop beats as Deitch and company offer homage to the classic, bygone Blue Note era. Egyptian Secrets stacks slab-on-slab of cool-hand grooves, employing the celebrated drummer’s patented deep pocket, and welcomes legendary sensei and jazz guitar icon John Scofield to serenade the spaces fantastic.
Adam Deitch was crystal clear that this album is a passion project dedicated to—and heavily influenced by—a lifelong hero of his, the late, great Idris Muhummad (formerly known as Leo Morris). Within these funky-ass rhythms, one can hear the undeniable vibrations of the New Orleans funk drummer extraordinaire. Idris, who hailed from the Crescent City but held it down in the Big Apple, passed in July 2014. He was revered as a king among men—his resume speaks for itself and includes godfathers of rare-groove Grant Green, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, and beyond. Those cats paved the way for the type of groove-laden jams that are continuously revealed throughout the Egyptian Secrets experience.
“I’ve dedicated the record to one of the greatest drummers to ever live, the legend Idris Muhammad, from New Orleans. On Egyptian Secrets, that’s where I’m coming from; I want to pay homage to that place that he created and lived in,” explained Adam Deitch.
First released as a teaser single nearly two years ago, “Dot Org” kicks things off with a dynamite progression that finds Deitch steering the ship with a nuanced swing, while Bay Area organist Wil Blades sets the table for Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce) to set sail with shimmering trumpet runs. Blades uncorks the first of several nifty B3 excursions, on the very first song the chemistry between drums and organ is palpable, meanwhile, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce) expands on his harmonic concepts. “Dot Org” is brimming with a collective confidence that is a harbinger of mojo to come.
The charging “Rocky Mountain Boogaloo” finds Scofield shredding atop the fatback groove, the first of several contributions from the erstwhile Grammy-winning Miles Davis alum. Batting third is “Egyptian Secrets”, the title track an ornate excursion in expansive colorways. The sheer brilliance places a laser focus on Deitch the composer, as he wrote each part for Bloom, Zoidis and Blades, offering an astounding array of melodic ideas that dance atop the beat-conductor’s sinister breakbeat porn. Trumpet wiz Bloom shines in particular on this euphonical masterpiece, offering a pair of downright thrilling joyrides, interspersed with harrowing detours into lower registers.
“This is an organic record, with no effects, we didn’t do any editing or post-production, drums, organ and horns. It’s either the first or second take of every song, so there’s some real vibe, it’s really alive, and usually that’s where the best samples are coming from,” Deitch added.
“Fear the Blades” reveals more funky groove patterns, with an interesting conversation between the brass and B3; rich in rimshots and resonance. Once again, the beats drive this bus with an understated authority through the interpolative “Progressions”. A wink toward the Bay, “Art Bar” is the lone Blades-penned number found on the LP, named for the San Francisco nightspot Madrone Art Bar, where the organist maintained a popular Sunday night residency for over a decade. Scofield certainly stars on “Art Bar”, while it’s Zoidis who steps up and shows out on the slightly straighter-ahead “Do Better.” Blades takes a scintillating turn with warm, bulbous organ and sturdy basslines on a joyful interpolation of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Feel”. Once again, Scofield drops back into the fray, spitting out nimble, angular statements while surfing pristine hollow-body tones.
“Summers Gone” sounds almost as if David Axlerod arranged an R&B tune; the song an expansive endeavor incorporating quite the memorable refrain. The bulbous jaunt finds Zoidis breaking from tradition, reveling in a recipe for patented spaceship sonics. Blades’ B3 keeps on chiefin’ along, while the funky drummer’s relentless thump n’bump serves as an anchor for the squadron. A second take of “Dot Org” is included, possibly a reminder of where the LP journey began. At its culmination, Deitch includes an excitable voicemail from iconic Headhunters drummer Mike Clark. “It was killin’, man,” Clark asserts, heaping praise on the project; this is total validation for the spilling of Egyptian Secrets.
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