Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Move to Groove: The Best of 1970s Jazz-Funk [Verve, 1995]
The jazzmen who named funk thought it should swing; the black rockers who stretched its foregrounded bottom every which way thought swing was only the beginning. Hence, "the best of 1970s jazz-funk" is an oxymoron. Funk is muscle on the one, yet most of the drummers here are lightweights, most of the bassists nonentities, and that's to leave hacks out of it. As for the slumming improvisers and pop wannabees up top, not only does this half-measure elicit their worst, but from Chick Corea and Roy Ayers to Sea Level and (jeeze, who remembered him?) Jess Roden, their best is none too good. We get Jimmy Smith trading B-3 for synth, Famous Flames going Vegas, Corea going nowhere, and a few good players whose rent is due. Jazz lifers--Monty Alexander, Houston Person, and especially Randy Weston--contribute the only enjoyable minutes on a 29-track double-CD. Remember, this is the breeding ground of acid jazz and rap jazzmatazz. Now you can't say you didn't know. C