Picks and Pans Review: Cold Sweat Plays J.b.

updated 08/07/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Cold Sweat

The cold truth is, y'all, nobody plays James Brown music as well as James Brown. But while J.B. is in a South Carolina jail, this rockin' and reelin' tribute perpetuates the funk.

Led by Craig Harris, whose hipbone is connected to his trombone, Cold Sweat mixes R&B journeymen and cutting-edge improvisers. They come out smoking on "Give It Up or Turnit A Loose," with New York-born poet-singer Sekou Sundiata trading rap-style licks with alto sax man Arthur Blythe. Harris cuts a swatch of silk with Blythe on the ballad "It's a Man's World," then jams with tenor saxophonist David Murray on "Brown's Dance."

A "Showtime Medley" includes such classics as "I Got the Feeling" and "Licking Mil Stick," but it lacks the abandon of Brown's live act. The ensemble redeems itself on "Cold Sweat," a free-blower that keeps the original's rhythmic pulse while Murray extends Brown's hard black sound with his rawboned approach to the melody.

The album reflects Brown's body-shaking, if not his breathtaking appeal. It makes you get up off a that thing and dance, so you feel better. (JMT)

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