Get fready for the "freq-y" power trio from the future, melding the talents of Vernon Reid on guitar, Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass and G. Calvin Weston on drums. This extraordinary meeting of the minds and souls breaks new ground in the definition of the timeless trio sound using the best elements of improvisation, modern dsp, and good old-fashioned funk. Groups are often touted as having "natural chemistry", but few if any would attempt a recording like this, putting these often used words to the test. Despite their long personal association, Reid, Tacuma and Weston had never before played together.A Brief History of the Freqs
The birth of the free form funky freqs is intertwined with the untimely death of Tonic, the legendary underground center for jazz, rock and experimental music in lower Manhattan. In it's waning days, a number of performances were commissioned from artists associated with the venue. Enter Weston, who called two long time friends to share the stage. Due to traveling and production circumstances, the trio had not played a single note together. The success of their spontaneious performance at Tonic came as a surprise and revelation, to the members of the trio. What started as an impromptu gig, now begged further consideration. Shortly after, Weston invited Reid and Tacuma to come to the Rhythm section's native Philadelphia, playing the underground haven Tritone. Once again, with no prior planning, the three took the stage and had yet another remarkable evening.
Willing to take a risk, Reid booked time at a little-known but professionally appointed studio near his home in Staten Island. These three musical innovators went into the studio wanting to explore the organic energy and excitement they felt from the live performance. What you hear on this recording is their third performance. Electrified by Reid's thought and riff provoking guitar work, matched with Tacuma's inventive bass playing and locked down by Weston's deep in the groove drum treatment, "Urban Mythology:Volume One" is a chapter in it's own book.
That's right. Urban Mythology Vol. One deals not with 'out' jazz of any sort, but with undiluted, heavy-duty funk. Take those early Funkadelic records and let them marinate in some Prime Time/Jimi Hendrix/Are You Glad To Be In America? sauce. This is no cosmic slop, this is deep funk.
Reid clearly thrives playing with such a muscular rhythm section. Tacuma's powerful bass (check out Over and Under<b/>and Weston's polyrhythmic rumble push him in many inspired directions. Ghost Sign Crossroad; is a fabulous and slinky blues. Nappy Hour; swings from Hendrix-esque scorch to Sonny Sharrock scrabble and back again. On the at-first nervous but ultimately explosive Don Cheadle Reid shows off some of his tangled-shredding style. Eddie Hazel would be proud.
None of this is to say that this is merely a Vernon Reid record with Tacuma & Weston providing backup. No, the Freqs appear to be far more diplomatic. Yes, Reid does have some spectacular moments here but there are just as many tossed out there by the rhythm section. Weston and Tacuma scare up some incredibly locked-in interplay (Chump Champ Chunk, Doing Within,A Lost Way Found) that are every bit as engrossing as Reid's funk blasts. Definitely a team effort.-Mark Saleski --Blogcritics- February 19th, 2008
There was a time when you'd say power trio and every rock fan knew what you were talking about: bands like Cream and ZZ Top, which used the basic setup of guitar, bass, and drums, added a splash of blues, and then let it all rip with tons of guitar solos. Punk practically put an end to all that, until indie-rock groups like Dinosaur Jr. made fret-shredding cool again. Free Form Funky Freqs a power trio fronted by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid summarizes the history of the genre on Urban Mythology Volume One, but with more jazz licks and less show-offy excess. Reid's speedy soloing and chunky riffing recall Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in their primes. He also unleashes noises in Street Corner Prophecy;that could warm the heart of Sonic Youth fans. Jamaaladeen Tacuma's funky, rippling bass and drummer G. Calvin Weston's slam-bash action provide rhythmic momentum while keeping Urban Mythology grounded. - Mark Keresman --Cleveland Scene- February 13, 2008
The album, Urban Mythology, Volume One, is a futuristic journey led by Reid s thoughtful, decisive guitar playing. The session, which was laid to tape live with no overdubs, is divided up into tracks and comes across more like a carefully composed project. The songs themselves are strong, some with a minimalist stripped down feel, and others like the rocker Over and Under dominate with a screaming guitar sound more akin to Reid s work with Living Colour. --Glide Magazine