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San Gabriel 7: Red Dress

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San Gabriel Seven
What would Tower of Power sound like if we swapped out Lenny Williams for Femi Knight and added an eye-dropper of the Jazz Crusaders? Obviously, we'll never know, but the San Gabriel 7's new album Red Dress, (Jrl Sgs), with singer-songwriter Femi Knight, gives us an idea.

The SG7 is based in the Los Angeles area, and Red Dress is the group's 10th album. The band features two distinct components—a funky rhythm section and robust squad of horns. The band features Chad Edwards (keyboards), Matt Weisberg (keyboards), Chris Gordon (piano), Steve Gregory (guitar), Jonathan Pintoff (bass), Randy Drake (drums) and Scott Breadman (percussion) with Mike McGuffey (tp), Jeff Jarvis (tp, flhrn), Kyle Palmer (tp), Glen Berger (ts,as) and Jim Lewis (tb).

The songs are I'm Going Home Tonight, Give a Little, West Indian Brown (Red Dress), When a Woman's Had Enough, New Tomorrow, The Next Big Thing, Stranger, Never Make Your Move Too Soon and The Next Big Thing.

Arrangements are by Dave Cushman, and all of the songs are by Knight except When a Woman's Had Enough and Never Make Your Move Too Soon.

Knight's songwriting is top notch. So are her vocals, both as lead and overdubbed harmony on backup. She pulls from the best of '70s soul but keeps the lyrics and feel here and now. Cushman's arrangements are taut and punchy, also with a '70s sensibility. Back then, horn charts added zip in the right places rather than sucking the oxygen out of the room. The rhythm section is solid, especially Gregory's guitar, which often plays off the horns.

An upbeat album that ushers in autumn and a reminder of good times in the past and to come once this blasted virus is history.

JazzWax clips: Here's I'm Going Home Tonight, with Femi Knight on vocal...



Here's West Indian Brown (Red Dress), which has a What Is Hip flavor...



And here's Stranger...



Here's Femi a few years ago...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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