JazzTimes - p.92
"KICK THE JAZZ offers fresh recordings of new songs and older tunes that Henderson wrote or co-wrote for the original group....[They] connect with the cool and jazzy 'Rich Hood'..."
Personnel: Greg Moore (vocals, guitar, background vocals); Brenda Kay Pierce (vocals, background vocals); E. Dooney (rap vocals); Brian Price (guitar); Paul Russo (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Brother Man Electronic (tenor saxophone); Wayne Henderson (trombone, background vocals); Billy Steinway, Herman Jackson (keyboards); Jerry Buckman (synthesizer, congas, drum programming); Tony Moore (drums).
Audio Mixer: Steve Robbins.
Recording information: Off The Backyard; The Funk Pit.
When Wayne Henderson left the Crusaders in 1975, he moved on to a successful solo recording career, and became an in-demand producer as well. In the 1990s, he snagged the "Jazz Crusaders" name (the Crusaders' original moniker) for a reunion project with drummer Stix Hooper and saxophonist Wilton Felder. Since that time, Henderson's been out there on tour, under the Jazz Crusaders moniker, with whatever band he happens to have under his control at the time. To make matters worse, the Crusaders name has been resurrected a couple of times by Joe Sample with Felder and Hooper. Ach! Kick the Jazz is subtitled "Jazz in the Hip-Hop Generation." According to the liner notes, Henderson claims that he's inventing something called "Jazziphop," a true fusion of the two styles -- apparently he's never heard Guru's Jazzmatazz albums or some of Madlib's joints. As for the music? Fans of the Crusaders' trademark electric groove will find some of that here, along with some really awful rapping by E. Dooney and some fine nu-soul vocalizing by Brenda Pierce. While Henderson, saxophonists Paul Russo and Brother Man Electronic, and various keyboard players find ways to gel the melodies and grooves here and there, the drums -- on all but one of these cuts -- are programmed beats that have no sense of flow at all. They feel static, and given the lack of samples to muck things up and fill in those beats, they stick out like anchors in the sand. The set's best cut is a laid-back funky soul groover with Pierce handling all the vocals and real live drummer Tony Moore playing the kit against the keyboards with a live bassline played by Larry Kimpel. Elsewhere, the slippery-spine rapping of E. Dooney sounds like L.A. smooth gangsta-lite; check the contrast between his limp rhymes and Pierce's sung vocals on "Brighter Day." She also shines on the album's closer, "Goin' Tribal," which really manages to pack some heat in its arrangement -- despite its cheesy drum programs. Henderson is indeed trying to inject something new into jazz. ~ Thom Jurek